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November 29, 2010

Argument du jour
Posted by Patrick at 10:32 PM * 295 comments

Two very smart takes on the prospect of a Joss Whedon-free Buffy reboot: Romanitas author Sophia McDougall talks herself into a very fragile truce with the idea. And io9’s Charlie Jane Anders argues that we need the kind of female heroes who should have followed Buffy, not another exercise in “digging through the scrapheap of old stories, looking for pieces of IP that [Hollywood] can break down and sell for parts.”

Comments on Argument du jour:
#1 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 10:57 PM:

The thing that gets me most about this remake is the idea mentioned by the screenwriter, that she wants to update Buffy. Who really thinks a show that ended 7 years ago needs updating? And how would you update something that, were it canned fruit, would still be good? What about Buffy is out of date?

Is Angel going to glitter? Will Willow be corrupted by the power of evil twitter?

#2 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 11:33 PM:

Why do they do remakes?
But in the olden days before fixed media everything was a remake.

#3 ::: John C. Bunnell ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 11:40 PM:

Kevin@1:
As to why the franchise needs updating: one argument, made by a commenter over on Deadline.com, is that the original television series takes place in a pre-cellphone world...and as a result, violates suspension of disbelief for today's incarnation of the show's target demographic. Teens will buy vampires, goes the logic, but won't forgive the heroes for not being cell-enabled, especially when series-episode plots often relied on various characters not being able to contact one another. So the franchise's main properties are essentially not marketable (that is, there's no audience for Buffy in syndication, as opposed to, say, the first two Stargate series).

Now there are problems with this theory, not least that -- although none of the reportage I've seen has been entirely clear about this -- any reboot is likely to draw only on the original theatrical feature but not on the TV series continuity or characters.

Commercially speaking, my own sense is that the reboot is more or less doomed, because even if they're unsaleable in the present market, all the creative value of the Buffy franchise lies in the TV properties -- and I don't see any way for the Kuzuis and Ms. Anderson to make serious money on the reboot without giving Whedon grounds to go after a share of it.

OTOH, my take on the artistic issues is quite different -- because on a strictly ethical level, if you object to people rewriting and re-envisioning a theatrical work, you have no business ever attending a newly mounted production of a Shakespeare play or a staging of, say, West Side Story. So I am more bemused than anything else by those who argue that there's some sort of betrayal involved in remaking the original Buffy movie without Joss Whedon's involvement.

#4 ::: John C. Bunnell ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 11:41 PM:

(Oh, and don't ask me who Kevin is. Clearly I was typing in an alternate universe....)

#5 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 11:43 PM:

I couldn't understand why John Houston was so down on remakes unless there was something very different being done in his autobiography, until I remembered The Maltese Falcon was the third time the studio had used the book and the first time the story actually followed the book. Outside of Houston the best thinking on the subject I've seen was by Burt Reynolds, who in an interview said something like "Why remake something that worked? There are hundreds of films where the direction was good but casting was wrong, or the director was the wrong man for the project, or the idea was great but the script was bad: remake one of those instead!"

#6 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2010, 11:57 PM:

not sure if I'm an iconoclast or whatever here, but didn't watch Buffy after the first few episodes* and won't watch a remake.

*I get really bored when I can spot all the plot bunnies in the first 15 minutes and they get played exactly as I figured them.

I also do not mind creations of fiction that I've loved, like LoTR and song of Ice and fire. Cinema gives it a new voice and makes it more real and wonderful in a way.

#7 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 12:46 AM:

There's nothing wrong with recreating an old story with a new slant. There is something desperately wrong with refusing to fund anything that doesn't already have some sort of track record, in the hope that everything you do will be a smash financial success.

Hollywood has something to learn from the original venture capitalists of Silicon Valley: if more than one in four of your ventures makes you money you're not taking enough risk.

#8 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 01:07 AM:

Paula, if you only watched the first few eps of Buffy you missed all the good bits.

#9 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 01:11 AM:

Coupla thoughts that strike me first.

1) It's not just cell phones. Our very notions of vampires have changed because of Buffy. Edward* is, in many ways, Angel's son (in the sense that Spike's his kid brother, following in his footsteps with a rebellious smirk...but still following‡)§. Remember the slow reveal of what Angel was? No Twilight fan would take more then ten minutes to go "yeah, good vampire, doesn't eat humans, potential ally, check. +4 on a 2d6 for love interest, too."

I noticed it reading Sunshine by Robin McKinley, too, abg whfg orpnhfr bs gur frk fprar, ohg nyfb because of the energy she has to put into saying, in essence, "No, srsly, vampires are really bad in this version".

Our expectations of vampires have changed. Retelling Buffy is kind of recursive, because you have to retell it in the light of itself. It's rather like, say, retelling Star Trek**.

2) The io9 article is substantially about heroes, and the flaws in our current popular stories about heroes, and I think it's right. The narratives all seem to be about heroism without sacrifice, without more than a pro-forma bow to the idea that doing great things carries a great cost.

This, in my view, is because we have our fingers in our ears about the costs of something many Americans still believe is heroic, and many more thought was heroic at the start: our current wars.

Bush hid the return of soldiers' bodies; we shuffle and scramble and fail to treat the injured personnel who come back; we glance quickly away from the cost to our economy. Everyday political discourse completely ignores the human price in the countries where we're making war. When it comes to authoritarian lawmaking, suddenly we're "at war", but the rest of the time, we go on as though it wasn't happening.

We don't want stories about victories at great cost, because somewhere in the stillness after the singer falls silent, the audience is expected to measure itself against the song just sung. And we, collectively, don't come out of that silence clamoring to hear more.

Buffy told that kind of story†. But I don't think they sell right now.

-----
* From what I know; I haven't read the books
‡ Yes, I know the chronology of the backstory. Still, in order of character reveal...
§ And Angel is, of course Loius' son. But Buffy popularized that theme at the same time that it dragged vampires firmly out of horror in the popular mind.±
± And then the zombies lurched after them.
** Huh. I think I might have found a way to reconcile to that reboot.
† So did the series I've suddenly decided I want on DVD for a rewatch: Babylon 5

#10 ::: marc sobel ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 01:21 AM:

Actually,John C. Bunnell, in the last season, on the Joss commentary of the first episode, he talks about using cellphones and how he avoided them until then because they make so many plots too easy.

I am rewatching Season 5, the one with the villain, Glory, that Sarah Palin plagarized, and it is just as wonderful as ever.

#11 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 01:29 AM:

Abi @9:

Speaking of heroism and cost, I have a friend who says that when Spock turns around in his chair in Wrath of Khan is the most powerful moment in all of Star Trek.

And "Grapevine Fires" is the fanvid that reconciled me to the reboot.

Related: Kumail Nanjiani on the horror plots you can't use anymore because of cell phones, and on Benjamin Button & the difference between fantasy & scifi.

#12 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 01:48 AM:

Sumana Harihareswara @ #11, his horror plot routine is pretty good. Besides the cellphone sub-plots he mentions, though, the monster/bad guy could also destroy the nearest transmission tower. If it's a monster movie, there's one more nifty bit of f/x.

#13 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 02:06 AM:

abi: We don't want stories about victories at great cost, because somewhere in the stillness after the singer falls silent, the audience is expected to measure itself against the song just sung. And we, collectively, don't come out of that silence clamoring to hear more.

Not only profound but also the best orig. movie reference evar. Did you do that on purpose?

#14 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 02:09 AM:

Nicole @13:
the best orig. movie reference evar.

Is it? I was thinking of Homer.

Please explain my brilliance to me. I would be delighted to hear of it.

#15 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 03:09 AM:

Matters of canonicity aside, does anyone else get the feeling that this (the Whedon-less Buffy remake) is just going to be a truly awful movie? I mean, it's obviously being made for a quick grab at popular-vampire cash, the original creator of the franchise is being excluded, and the writer (if the IMDB is to be believed) has no previous writing credits to her name. I can smell the stink ten miles off.

Also, I don't think the new movie will be able to include any of the supporting cast from the TV show -- Angel, Spike, Willow, Zander, Giles, etc. That's bound to alienate pretty much the entire fan base for the show.

#16 ::: John C. Bunnell ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 03:25 AM:

Marc@#10:
As regards the cellphone thing: whether the choice was deliberate or not isn't strictly relevant to the commenter's original point (remember, I'm just the messenger for this item). That point was that the lack of cellphones (a) makes the TV series unwatchable for younger audiences today, and thereby (b) has made it difficult to sell the series into syndication/second-run markets, thereby reducing the franchise's profitability.

At least till very recently, this seems to have been a valid point. The one cable network presently airing Buffy reruns is apparently Logo, an LGBT-themed channel -- not a top-tier market, I'd think -- and none of my local over-the-air channels have syndicated the show (whereas suddenly I can find Stargate reruns all over the place). The series does, per Wikipedia, have a deal with Syfy's new partner-channel, "Chiller"...but that channel does not show up in the Comcast listings in my market.

Also as I note upstream: even if the foregoing chain of logic is valid (and that's debatable), it strikes me as an unconvincing fiscal justification for rebooting the feature film (which the Kuzuis can do without involving Joss Whedon) as opposed to the TV series (which they probably can't do without involving Joss in some way). That way lies madness and/or lawsuits, I think, and the odds of such a film being a hit strike me as vanishingly slim.

#17 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 03:54 AM:

Fan Base: It's been seven years, that's time for a whole new teen market to appear. We're maybe unusual, hooked on the TV show because of its resonances with more distant personal history.

Great Deeds and Great Cost: If you're not willing to do that, what you end up with is pretty thin. Go look at The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, and The Big Sleep, and try saying the characters Bogart plays don't pay a heavy price.

The serialization of the blockbuster movie is dragging the drama down to the contrivances of the daytime soaps.

Incidentally, think about where you might find a telephone in rural England, 1922? Most likely, the village Post Office, with a few lines running through a manual switchboard. Even in the heart of London... Well, go an read The Unpleasantness At The Bellona Club for an idea of how unusual, and special, a telephone was.

It wasn't until 1929 that those blue Police boxes appeared in London.

That was why the first Police radio vehicles were small trucks, with specialist signallers sending and receiving Morse. It was why a Policeman's beat was defined by "points": arranged meeting places with other Officers and his superiors.

And this stuff is still within living memory, just.

#18 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 05:15 AM:

John @16: rebooting the feature film (which the Kuzuis can do without involving Joss Whedon) as opposed to the TV series (which they probably can't do without involving Joss in some way)

I think the crux of it is that they can't reboot the series without getting the rights from Fox.

#19 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 05:55 AM:

Abi @ 9... We don't want stories about victories at great cost

May I recommend William Wyler's 1946 "The Best Years of Our Lives"?

#20 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 06:10 AM:

Hitchcock remade his own movies, presumably because he was unhappy with the originals. I confess that I prefer his 2nd shot at "The Man Who Knew Too Much", although I must say that Doris Day's repeated signign of "Que Sera Sera" was hard to take.

Last year, our local con had a panel with SF writers who work in Hollywood. I asked about remakes and George RR Martin said he dreads(*) the day when someone will remake "Forbidden Planet" and gave the example of the then-recent remake of "The Day The Earth Stood Still". Me, I stayed away from that remake.

----------

(*) The words he actually used were harsher.

#21 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 06:12 AM:

I was looking forward to Star Trek's reboot. Heck, if nothing else, it had Bruce Greenwood as Captain Pyke. But... It had a crappy story.

#22 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 06:59 AM:

Zero-cellphone plots drive a LOT of old stories that, but for the absence of cellphones, could be exactly today. There are a whole universe of stock sub-plots that you just can't use without at least giving a lingering shot to an out-of-service or forgotten mobile.

#23 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 07:50 AM:

Dave Bell @ #17

On the subject of old time communication methods, the village post office is quite likely to have been the only place with a telephone (or the only place with a _public_ telephone) - you occasionally see enamelled "You may telephone from here" signs at antique fairs. (Also "It is an offence to throw stones at the telegraphs" cast iron plates from telegraph poles.)

This moose is quite partial to the R. Austin Freeman "Dr. Thorndyke" stories, and the background detail is quite fascinating: London hooligans were probably more violent then than now, the fastest way to tell your wife that you will be late for tea is to send her a postcard, etc.

#24 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 08:15 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 7:
There is something desperately wrong with refusing to fund anything that doesn't already have some sort of track record, in the hope that everything you do will be a smash financial success.

I think "refusing to fund anything" is a bit sweeping, given that there were more than two hundred movies released in the US during the last year, most of which did not "have some sort of track record". A few examples: Avatar, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Inception, Despicable Me, The Social Network, Daybreakers, The Tooth Fairy, The Book of Eli, The American, Unstoppable, Never Let Me Go, Centurion, Green Zone, Secretariat, The Expendables, Salt, How to Train Your Dragon, Shutter Island, ...

(Most of these are not necessarily good films, nor were they all successful, but at least they're not based on some pre-existing film, TV show, video game, or overwhelmingly popular book.)

Hollywood has something to learn from the original venture capitalists of Silicon Valley: if more than one in four of your ventures makes you money you're not taking enough risk.

Do we know that Hollywood has a success rate of better than one in four? (If you include all the movies in "development" or even "pre-production" that never get filmed, I'm sure the success rate is much worse than that.) Do Silicon Valley venture capitalists go bankrupt as often as Hollywood production companies and studios? (I have no idea what the answer is, but I'd be a bit surprised if they do worse.)

Actually, this article about the clashes between Silicon Valley and Hollywood business cultures argues for the opposite analysis of risk-taking: "... Silicon Valley’s tight VC approach to funding…. looking to give a little for a lot does not align with the more open and aggressive, risky funding strategies that have made the great Hollywood moguls from the Golden Era to the present."

#25 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 08:18 AM:

Does anybody remember that TV's Buffy itself was a remake?

#26 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 08:33 AM:

The second linked article makes the point that Buffy was radical because a character who appears to be the victim is unexpectedly recast as the hero. In that light, maybe the true successor to Buffy is actually _Shrek_ -- which recasts the monster as the hero in the same way.

Both of them are undermining the "actually, you CAN judge a book by its cover" stereotyping of the culture as it existed before them. (Which sort of reminds me of the Dollars Trilogy -- by the standards of the time, Clint Eastwood's character sure didn't look like a hero, but he acted like one. Those movies redefined the heroic image so much that now we hardly even blink at the idea of a hero that looks like a ruffian and a scoundrel -- or even is one, see Han Solo.)

But of course _Shrek_ is primarily a comedy and not a serious exploration of the idea of heroism. Or what does it say about us that we can only treat heroes as a joke?

(At this point gender is sort of receding into the background except as a part of the victim-stereotype overthrown by _Buffy_. But if you want a character who is simultaneously female, monstrous, and heroic, you'll have to look outside TV and movies to find Sergeant Taura. Who, IIRC, predates even the original _Buffy_, so maybe it was nothing new under the sun to begin with.)

#27 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 08:50 AM:

Abi@9 Our expectations of vampires have changed. Retelling Buffy is kind of recursive, because you have to retell it in the light of itself. It's rather like, say, retelling Star Trek

Yes. Buffy is part of and changed mainstream culture, and I'm sorry for those who weren't there for the first go-around. Part of re-watching Buffy for me is not just to appreciate it for itself, but for the bitter-sweet ache* of trying recapture watching it for the first time, in its context. One of the things I love about the new Doctor Who** is that I believe its target audience will be able to feel about it the way I felt about my Doctor, in my time. If the new (5 years old now!) adaptation did that and nothing else, it succeeded.

I remember a double-take reading LOTR after growing up with D&D - looking at that world of orcs, elves and dwarves with its ranger who is really a king - and realizing that it isn't the cliché, it's the original work***. It was an eye-opener to try to imagine the world of popular culture before it existed.

I wonder if I can treat Babylon5&dagger as a proper first go-around, outside of it's natural time. I'm afraid I won't be able to, but even failure can be glorious...

* because the enterprise is doomed to failure

** one of the many, many things.

*** ok, Tolkien didn't invent elves, orcs or dwarves. Or rangers. But he crystallised the current incarnation.

&dagger I don't know whether to thank you or curse you, but someone's present buying for me has resolved itself into a box set. I caught only odd episodes of the original broadcast - enough to be interested, but not enough to follow the story arc. Now I just have to find a couple of hundred hours in 2011.

#28 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 09:26 AM:

Russ @ 27... it isn't the cliché, it's the original work

Apparently, some young folks thought that the recent "Wolfman" movie was a ripoff of "Twilight".

#29 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 09:50 AM:

chris @ #26, re Sgt. Taura: female, monstrous, heroic...and a victim, not only initially but in one aspect of her very nature. Though that just added to the heroism, IMO.

Am I the only one who's annoyed at the "kids won't watch that" chorus? My kids watch subtitled movies, black and white movies, SILENT movies...they were Buster Keaton fans before they hit middle school. Honestly, a person who can swallow a premise like Yu-Gi-Oh! can suspend disbelief in anything.

#30 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 10:54 AM:

Peter Erwin:

My understanding is that return on investments in movies is dominated by the extreme events--the one in a thousand massive hit can make vast amounts of money, even though the great majority of movies don't come close to that.

#31 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 11:29 AM:

Russ @27: I've just been amidst a B5 rewatch (via Netflix streaming) -- I'm currently partway through Season 5, which I never saw the first time around at all.

Watching it again NOW, the two main this-is-a-period-piece (a future-of-the-past, as it were) areas that I kept noticing were:

Trivial One: the clothes and hair. OMG. Actually, the costume design was really neat -- you can tell by looking (once you get used to the world) an Earthling's socioeconomic class and whether they're a square businessman, an entertainer, etc; plus as the show went on and the economy changed, fashion changed too. And what that designer did with women's business suits is awesome, and should hit the mainstream. The female hairdos, though, are clearly the future of the late 80s. :->

Thematic One: An awful, awful lot of the political/rebellion/war/heroism subplots (keeping it vague to avoid spoilers) read VERY DIFFERENTLY today than they did then. Still incredibly relevant, just from a reciprocal angle, kind of thing. It could not be written that way today, IMHO.

#32 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 11:43 AM:

Lila, #29: I dunno -- I find myself being annoyed at plots which forget the existence of cellphones, even in things which are old enough that it's a legitimate ploy, if it isn't obviously dated otherwise. That's how quickly we've gone from "rare" to "fad" to "ubiquitous".

And a comment I saw elsewhere pointed out that it's much easier to suspend disbelief about things that obviously don't exist than about something that's supposed to be a contemporary background setting being just plain unrealistic. Imagine how you'd react to a contemporary-setting story with hovercars -- not noticed or mentioned, just there in the background. The world is supposed to work.

#33 ::: John C. Bunnell ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 11:58 AM:

Lila@#29:
As with the cellphone issue itself, note that the "kids won't watch that" premise doesn't originate with me; that's the Deadline.com commenter's assessment of why the Buffy TV series hasn't been making much money in syndication.

Me, I have a different theory (and no, it clearly isn't bunnies): what's significant is that whereas Buffy is a vampire series, it was never -- unlike the two other big tween vampire franchises -- a soap opera. Sure, there was romance, but Buffy was and is essentially an action/adventure series with romantic elements, whereas Twilight and The Vampire Diaries are romance/relationship series with action/adventure elements.

And thus the problem with re-marketing the TV series as a syndication property is that current audiences, teen, tween and otherwise, all expect vampire series to be inherently romance-driven. So when new viewers realize that Buffy isn't, they switch channels looking for something that is.

#34 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 12:23 PM:

Serge @25: in theory, this new Buffy has the exact same status as Joss Whedon's TV series - both are remakes of the 1992 Kristy Swanson film. In fact, of course, nobody remembers the film, and anyone who does doesn't care about it - reflected in the fact that, as far as I've seen, press material from WB has focussed on the series to the exclusion of the original film.

re: mobile phones as plot destruction: I know a GM who greatly prefers to set RPGs in the late eighties rather than the present day, to avoid the twin scourges of ubiquitous mobile phones and Google.

#35 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 12:28 PM:

SeanH @ 34... I saw the 1992 movie so I can well understand why nobody would want to bring it up. :-)

#36 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 12:56 PM:

Aw, now I kind of like the original Buffy movie in all its cheesiness. ("My secret power is PMS?!?") But I am just now (hangs head in shame) watching the TV series and half-way through season 2. (Something Very Bad has obviously just happened to Angel and I guess I will find out what tonight.) Very different feel. And didn't the first Buffy have the ability to sense the proximity of vampires? TV Buffy seems to get snuck up on a lot.

#37 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 01:57 PM:

Russ @27: Thank them. I treated myself to the B5 box set (complete 5 series, movies and Crusade) lst year. We've been watching one or two episodes a week and we're now nearly at the end of Series 3. It's still good. The foreshadowing, the one-liners, the character development...

#38 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 02:29 PM:

Janet @ 36... And didn't the first Buffy have the ability to sense the proximity of vampires? TV Buffy seems to get snuck up on a lot.

This reminds me of ST-TNG's idiocy of having a weekly series whith a telepath in its cast. That's even more problematic than cell phones that won't work.

#39 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 02:37 PM:

Sumana @11:

Thank you for that link. It's very well done.

It reminds me that the Star Trek movies§ had a sure grasp of the thing we're talking about here: that serious deeds have serious costs. The pause as Spock turns his chair around*. The way the bridge crew watch the Enterprise burn a trail across the sky.

And the Buffy TV series had that, too. I'm thinking of how I felt at one particular moment when Spike buried his face in his hands and wept*, but there are certainly others.

I am reminded of a passage from The Last Unicorn†:

"Speaking of livers," the unicorn said. "Real magic can never be made by offering up someone else's liver. You must tear out your own, and not expect to get it back. The true witches know that."

My concern is that the new Buffy film will not even offer us someone else's liver, but rather a kind of vegetarian liver product, cleverly concocted out of lentils and mushrooms to resemble real liver but made at a fraction of the cost. There's a lot of that going about.

-----
§ The original series, not so much. Story arc came later (to SF on TV: Blakes Seven; to Trek: Deep Space Nine, IMHO, but I'll entertain arguments about late NextGen.)
* There's a deep parallel between those examples, actually. Turns out you can undo a heroic sacrifice and still have a true story. But the characters can't know it's possible; they have to make it for real.
† Speaking of undoing heroic sacrifice.

#40 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 02:37 PM:

I have a lingering fondness for the 1992 movie, and my initial response to the first few eps of the Whedon series was, "Oh, it's not meant to be a sequel, is it? Not when the Buffy character has to partial re-do her character development." One of these days I'll actually watch the whole series, but I don't typically sit down and watch whole series of TV shows, it's a lot of time spent watching things. So I'm often more likely to just re-watch the movie for nostalgia and for Pee Wee Herman's most excellent death scene.

I know, I know, shaddup.

abi, the reference I was thinking of was the use the movie made of the phrase "when the music stops, the rest is silence." It's meant to sound very profound but comes out a little silly; but then I also class Labyrinth's "You have no power over me" speech in the same category, and I want to pat them both on the head and tell them how cute they are.

#41 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 02:43 PM:

The point I've found myself pondering lately is that there are no heroes for us American old ladies to identify with*. This is not news, but isn't it time for this to change? Problem is, I guess we're not what you would call a "target demographic." I.e., we don't spend enough money** to motivate advertising to us.***

*Unless you have access to BBC.
**Because we mostly know better by now.
***I have mixed feelings about Hulu's "is this ad relevant to you?" given that I click "No" nineteen times out of twenty.**** Just highlights for me how little of modern commercial culture has to offer me, I guess.
****And four times out of five, I have to stretch the definition of "relevant" to get that "Yes" on the twentieth.

#42 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 02:49 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @40: I don't typically sit down and watch whole series of TV shows, it's a lot of time spent watching things.

This would be why the ghods gave us [knitting]. (I just burned through Law & Order: SVU after finishing off Doctor Who. Now I'm working on Cagney & Lacey.) (I'm afraid I've largely given up reading, for this reason. Just don't have the patience, anymore.) (Audiobooks, FTW!)

#43 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 02:55 PM:

abi @ 39... serious deeds have serious costs

I think the best scene in Jackson's LoTR movies is near the end, when the four friends are having a drink at the tavern, and laughing, then they all fall silent.

#44 ::: Ingrid ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 03:30 PM:

abi: We don't want stories about victories at great cost, because somewhere in the stillness after the singer falls silent, the audience is expected to measure itself against the song just sung. And we, collectively, don't come out of that silence clamoring to hear more.

One of the things that makes really memorable heroic movies, though, is when the audience feels a sense of participation with the sacrifice, or at least the risk. I'm thinking of the first Spider-Man movie, near the end when Spidey is hanging off the bridge, and the people of New York help him fight i.e. "You mess with one of us; you mess with all of us."

We are all victims in the cold, cruel world (oh, the humanity), but we can all be heroes, too, maybe, if our cellphone coverage holds out.

Bring on the new Buffy! I look forward to seeing how they work in Google and smart phones. I expect it won't change things too much - help will still arrive too late and Watchers will still be handy to supply spell components and interpret ancient texts.

#45 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 03:47 PM:

abi @ 39... serious deeds have serious costs

Remember the ending of 1983's Dead Zone?

#46 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 04:26 PM:

Ingrid @44:
One of the things that makes really memorable heroic movies, though, is when the audience feels a sense of participation with the sacrifice, or at least the risk.

Agreed. I think that's one reason that series can kill off characters with such impact. We come to love them, and share the pain of losing them.

It's still somebody else's liver; it's not like a death in the real world. But it's real liver, real loss. It makes the story important to us.

Bring on the new Buffy!

I'm not quite that enthusiastic; reading the interview with Whit Anderson, I don't get the sense that she understands how much of the original story was driven by loss. She's focused on the conflict between Buffy's destiny and her desire for a normal life, and sounds rather dazzled by her heroism.

The deep struggle she had with duty and destiny, that tug between what you’re supposed to be doing and what you want to be doing. The fate of the world is on her shoulders, but some days she wakes up, and she just doesn’t want to do it. And are we doomed and destined to love someone? That conflict was very interesting to me. Those are the things I loved about her and her world. She also represents — like all the heroes — something empowering for us. She reminds us of what we could be if we were in our top form, the best of us if we were at our very best, and even then we still see the vulnerability and doubts she has inside. That’s where we all connect.

Also, looking at the photo on the article, and reading her quote, I do wonder if she's going to resist the temptation to turn it into a Mary Sue.

But I am perhaps overly cynical.

#47 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 04:30 PM:

Also, belatedly, it strikes me that we're going to be comparing a years-long series to a single movie. No film can carry that kind of weight or convey that kind of complexity.

#48 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 04:51 PM:

Abi@47: Also, belatedly, it strikes me that we're going to be comparing a years-long series to a single movie. No film can carry that kind of weight or convey that kind of complexity.

But that's the challenge the new creative team took on when they decided to do this project. At some level, they have to (or at least should) know that this is where the bar is set. Same as when any creator takes on an adaptation of something this popular. The fans are keeping a watchful eye and will let you know when you make a wrong move. For better or worse, that's the intellectual and emotional cost of adaptation: you risk enraging fandom. It has to factor in to the calculus of storytelling and to fail to do so will result in the worst thing imaginable: a bad adaptation.

#49 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 05:17 PM:

I judge that Buffy without Whedon is heresy.

#50 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 05:31 PM:

I spent a whole lot of years deep in the BtVS fandom (and believe me, the no cell phone problem was something people on posting boards and Live Journal bitched about starting around s4) so any comment I make on the reboot is colored by that experience, and by the Bitter Old Fandom Crones and Codgers on my friends list, who are more and more deeply offended and alienated by Joss's handling of the characters and story in the comic books.

My impression of the Buffy movie was that the Kuzuis and some of the actors (notably Donald Sutherland) put a lot of energy into filling it with straight riffs on standard horror tropes, against the intention of Whedon's original script. Anderson's take on the story takes it in another direction (one that anyone who has watched BtVS s5, 6, and7 will recognize as being a minor part of Buffy's motivation, and much more of Dawn's) while ignoring, from her description, both the bildungsroman and the constant parodic twist on horror tropes which combined to make many of Buffy's finest moments.

I don't go to many movies, and when I do it's because they won't translate well to TV; this reboot sounds to me as if it will fit right in to the same slot as Stonehenge Apocalypse on the Scifi Channel on Saturday night.

#51 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 05:59 PM:

Jacque @41, about the only heroines "of a certain age" I can think of off the top of my head are Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, and Cordelia Naismith. All quite different but very much themselves. Can't really think of much in the video world.

#52 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 06:14 PM:

I enjoyed BtVS during its run, but I noticed myself cringing from time to time at the whole "violence as foreplay" shtick between Buffy and Spike. There was more of the same kind of thing in Dollhouse.

This type of interaction has a long history in literature, of course, but I still wish he had dialed it down a notch.

#53 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 06:15 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft @ 51... What about Sarah Jane Smith?

#54 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 06:27 PM:

About making a movie out of a series... I thought that 1994's "The Fugitive" had done a good job of giving us the essence of the TV show - a man trying to prove his innocence, but not giving up on his being a healer. Also, 2000's "X-men" gave us the core of the original, which was that the world hates them, but still they protect it.

#55 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 06:32 PM:

There are a plethora of "heroines of a certain age" in mystery fiction -- start with Miss Marple, but go on to Emily Pollifax and many others. And many of them have shown up in video adaptations. Mystery fiction is one of the few places where older people, in general, have gotten a good representation.

#56 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 06:35 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft @51 and Jacque @41: I'm coming up blank on TV, but in other recent media there are Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle and Victoria in RED. No one has been able to replace Jessica Fletcher, it seems.

#57 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 06:46 PM:

SeanH @34: I know a GM who greatly prefers to set RPGs in the late eighties rather than the present day, to avoid the twin scourges of ubiquitous mobile phones and Google.

The last RPG I played (Dresden Files RPG, pre-release, using playtest PDFs, so we didn't have all the rules), Googling for information actually became part of the plot of the first session. The players all had laptops on the table, and we looked stuff up and incorporated it into the game as we went.

The Dresden setting has a built-in detail (modern tech fails around wizards) that keeps the protagonist from being able to use a cellphone, but only one of our four PCs was a full-fledged wizard, so he was the one who was perpetually out of touch.

#58 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 06:53 PM:

Serge @53 & Tom Whitmore @55: Like I say, if you pop over to BBC, there are some several of them. (The Brits seem more willing to acknowledge the usefulness of old ladies than we Americans are.)

But: confined almost exclusively to the mystery genre. (Even Jessica Fletcher, who is the only American example I can think of.)

I'm pleased to observe that ABC's primetime dramedy line-up includes more 40+ women as lead(ish) characters than I remember in past years.

But I'd like to see more gray-haired ladies out there kicking some tush, if at least metaphorically.

Strangely, I'm hoping that HDTV will help us out some in this respect: it's much harder to hide an actor's "blemishes." I hold out hope that this makes it easier to see "old" people in the same way that (in my experience, at least) TV aliens have made it easier to see non-"funny-looking" people.

(Heh. Watching a couple of Harry Potter movies over the weekend, Teresa's aphorism kept leaping to mind. Our Heroes are fresh-faced and pretty, but everybody else bears a much closer resemblance to "real people" than one is prone to see in American media.)

#59 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 06:59 PM:

Watching movies made in the nineties and a bit later where they do use cell phones makes them seem a bit dated because of the advances in technology. A RAZR! Why, that's so 2004!

#60 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 06:59 PM:

A footnote to my 58 above: I'm speaking also from the perspective of a portrait artists: older people are much more fun to draw, because they generally have more definition in their faces, and also (perhaps not coincidentally) because they tend to be much more "themselves."

This flip side of this is that maybe younger, less defined people are easier to identify with (Cf: Scott McCleod in Understanding Comics).

#61 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 07:01 PM:

Abi @39: Turns out you can undo a heroic sacrifice and still have a true story. But the characters can't know it's possible; they have to make it for real.

I dunno. It seems to me that Wrath of Khan marks a high point that the (classic crew, movie) franchise never managed to climb back to. Star Trek 4 was the only one of the old-crew movies after that to be worth a damn, and it was a comedy. I don't know that it's because they brought Spock back, but certainly nothing in those movies has the same emotional impact. (Even the destruction of the Enterprise in the third movie seemed contrived to me, motivated not so much by the events of the story as by the writer's desire for a dramatic sacrifice.)

#62 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 07:03 PM:

Jacque @60, or better yet, see Scott McCloud.

#63 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 07:04 PM:

Avram @#15:

does anyone else get the feeling that this (the Whedon-less Buffy remake) is just going to be a truly awful movie?

In that way it will be true to its source, because the original BTVS was also a truly awful movie. The TV show and all the good stuff in it came after.

#64 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 07:09 PM:

#53 ::: Serge: What about Sarah Jane Smith?

She's a bit younger than Granny Weatherwax...at what age do we become crones? : )

#65 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 07:13 PM:

Re the lack of public phones in 1920s mysteries - I've found that continues even into 1940s mysteries, where phone booths are found inside restaurants but not on streetcorners, so if anything happens late at night the protagonist has to run several blocks to find a place that's open.

#66 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 07:16 PM:

Re "women of a certain age"--the first one that popped into my head was Dr. Julia Hoffman, from the original "Dark Shadows", which was an actual soap opera that later, and gradually, added vampires, ghosts, witches and time travel. I was obsessed with it when I was in 4th grade, and one of the salient points that grabbed my interest was Dr. Hoffman. A WOMAN. People called her "Doctor Hoffman". She wasn't married, she wasn't young and she wasn't beautiful. IN THE 1960s!!!!

Other than Ursula K. LeGuin and Lois McMaster Bujold (Ista FTW!) and Sir Terry, not many people are going there, even now.

#67 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 07:24 PM:

Sarah E @ 64... True, but for American audiences, a woman over 50 might as well be called a crone, although nobody would ever dare say that to the face of Judi Densch, or Helen Mirren's. As for American women of a certain age on TV, there was Mary McDonnell's character on "Galactica", but that's about it.

#68 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 07:27 PM:

Diana Muldaur as Dr.Pulasky on ST-TNG

#69 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 07:51 PM:

Peter Erwin @ 24:
Do Silicon Valley venture capitalists go bankrupt as often as Hollywood production companies and studios?

Note that I said "original ... venture capitalists". I was talking about the VCs of the 1970s and '80s, who started companies like Intel, IMSAI, Apple, Connection Machines, SGI, Lisp Machines, Symbolics ... . Only 2 companies in that list survived. Admittedly, contemporary VCs are much more risk-averse than the giants of old. And no, VCs don't go bankrupt; the companies they invest in often do, however. Note also that production companies and studios do occasionally go bankrupt or are bought at pennies on the dollar by other studios.


Elliot Mason @ 31:

The bit from B5 that has stuck with me the most over the years is how in the beginning of one episode they took about 10 seconds to do well what it took Star Trek: The Next Generation an entire episode to screw up. Ivanova is shown in her apartment getting ready for work. She goes into the bedroom where she finds Talia Winters just waking up, gives her a very romantic kiss, and leaves. Message delivered simply and effectively: being gay or bisexual is completely unremarkable in this future.

ST:TNG's attempt at dealing with teh gay was so awkward and so revoltingly liberal1 that I can't bear to describe it.

1. As in the meaning of Phil Ochs' song "Love Me, Love Me, Love Me, I'm a Liberal".


Serge @ 35:

Even so, I have a soft spot in my heart for Paul Reubens' death scene under the ending credits.

#70 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 08:04 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 69... Buffy vs Pee-wee? A battle royale!

About ST-TNG... David Gerrold's story was eventually filmed as a web-based episode of the Old Generation. I smiled when Kirk, embarassed at finding out that his nephew is a homosexual, asks if everybody but him knew. Spocks responds that Scotty didn't know - because he was so busy in the engine room.

#71 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 08:09 PM:

I'll grant you the mysteries, Amelia Peabody being one of my favorite heroines, aging quite feistily over the course of the series. And one reason I like The Thomas Crown Affair (newer version) is that Rene Russo is quite obviously not a teenager.

Serge, I'll see your Dr. Pulasky and raise you Lwaxanna Troi. Though I suppose she didn't kick butt so much in the physical sense, you still wouldn't want to stand in her way. Perish the thought.

But yeah, as we discussed not that long ago, at a certain age, in our society, a woman starts feeling herself become invisible. Useful if you WANT to be Miss Marple and sit unnoticed in a corner observing the wickedness of the world. Not so much fun if you'd rather swan about being Lwaxanna Troi.

Getting back to Jacque @41, I've seen some speculation that the reason you are starting to see more older women in the fashion magazines lately is that we are the only ones who actually HAVE some money to spend -- the twenty-somethings just getting out of college are having a helluva time finding work. Who knows, maybe that demographic will drive something to happen in movies and TV.

#72 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 08:20 PM:

On older women in fiction and popular culture, I have high hopes for Helen Mirren as Prospero, I mean Prospera, in Julie Taymor's upcoming Tempest. The trailer depicts her as a woman of power, dignity, and the kind of beauty which renders youth irrelevant.

#73 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 08:24 PM:

Elliott, #31: That's odd; I don't recall the hair on any of the main B5 women being anything but non-specific-period classic. Ivanova had a ponytail much of the time, and when she didn't, it was the kind of "I Use Product" wavy that hairdressers still try to convince me to do; Talia had a basic bob, although the length varied from season to season; Lyta had the same only with bangs, and sometimes she wore it up; Delenn's hair (once she had hair) was actually a lot like mine, and mine has no "style" at all beyond being short in the front.

John, #33: What about True Blood? Given what little I know about the books, it could go either way.

Jacque, #41: Sounds like my reaction to Facebook ads. Left to my own devices, I'd X nearly all of them. In practice, I save my thumbs-downs for things which are obviously scams and/or fundie/TPer crap, on the theory that encouraging legitimate ads (whether they interest me or not) is a reasonable goal.

abi, #46: The sense that even major characters can die is part of what raises good drama above the level of schlock. Hell, Ursula Vernon just did this in her Digger webcomic, and gave the fans a blog post in which to vent and discuss their feelings about it. Boromir's death in LOTR (and Gandalf's apparent death as well) lends a lot more oomph to the perils the other characters get into later on.

Steve, #52: The first time they used the violence-as-foreplay schtick, I immediately interpreted it as "Klingon mating ritual!" That made it both funny and tolerable, but it got less so with repetition; OTOH, I think that was part of the point.

...and @59: This assumes that the viewer would even know what a RAZR looks like, or how it's different from an Adorable Overhyped Phone. :-) Not everyone pays attention to the Latest Hot Trends, or notices styling details from one year to the other. My partner gets annoyed when I can't tell one brand of jellybean car from another, but who cares?

Sarah, #64: The canonical definition is having gone a year without a menstrual period. So, different ages for different women. My partner says that there's a significant shift in the distribution of body fat which comes along with it; I suppose that could be a visual cue.

#74 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 08:31 PM:

I can tell that Charlie Jane Anders is not familiar with the works of Wes Craven.

#75 ::: Ken ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 09:14 PM:

The Buffy series may not be popular for syndication, but it's certainly had an impact on novels. It seems that half the new books in the fantasy section of my city's library have back blurbs along the lines of "On her eighteenth birthday, Mary Sue learns that she is the Chosen One, destined to use her special powers to battle the dark forces that threaten mankind." Maybe there's a bit of indirection here, with the new Buffy riding this wave of old-Buffy ripoffs.

Sarah E at 64: You become a crone when you start hanging out with two other women who fit the maiden and mother archetypes.

#76 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 09:22 PM:

Sarah E @64

She's a bit younger than Granny Weatherwax...at what age do we become crones? : )

Some of us are born crones. That's one reason why it takes us so long to be comfortable in our own skins. I've been a battleaxe-in-training for years now, and look forward to earning my full francisca. Or labrys. Haven't decided yet.

I suspect that as the boomers, and later we gen-xers become the dominant demographic, there'll be more places for a variety of women. It's already starting in TV, with series like The Good Wife. Yes, she's still impossibly beautiful, but she's a woman grown, and more than able to stand up for herself. To what extent this reflects reality, and to what extent it's wish fulfilment, I leave as an exercise for the reader, but both have always had their place in entertainment.

#77 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 09:31 PM:

To Lee @73, in re Bab5 hair: I meant mostly the lesser characters (one-ep wonders, and the like). The regular standing cast were less period-locked, I agree. I love watching the backgrounds of shots, though -- it's such a rich, deep, consistent world.

#78 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 09:38 PM:

As a medievalist-by-training, I'd be the worst sort of hypocrite if I objected to the idea of somebody reworking or remaking a significant piece of popular culture -- exactly how many remakes, reworkings, and re-envisionings of the King Arthur story are we up to by now, anyway? That said, I expect that the Buffy movie remake will probably suck, simply because it's a lot easier for art to suck than it is for it to be brilliant. (There are some sucky examples of Arthuriana out there too, and not all of them by Marion Zimmer Bradley modern.)

#79 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 10:31 PM:

Avram 57: with Google in RPGs you could use real-world maps.

#80 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 11:04 PM:

Does TNT's "The Closer" count? I don't know what a Certain Age is, by either our local standards or Hollywood's. Kyra Sedgwick seems old-for-TV to me, but I've been wrong about these things, often and in public, before.

#81 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2010, 11:15 PM:

Avram@62: Although actually Jacque was close to correct, in that "McCloud" is a pen name, and it's really spelled "McLeod". All she had to do was drop a C.

#82 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 12:10 AM:

I can't believe the Star Trek and the older-women-on-television threads haven't crossed yet, so I'll be the one to short the circuit and mention Kathryn Janeway. I have no idea how old Kate Mulgrew was when Voyager was filming, but her character always struck me as having significantly more experience under her than the average TV heroine. I guess not necessarily "old", as Jacque @41 was asking after, but solidly middle-aged.

In literature, every other book or story of Elizabeth Bear's I read features a middle-aged or older female protagonist -- Abby Irene Garrett, Jenny Casey. I'm not really sure where to class immortals like the Conns and Muire, but they read like they're in there somewhere. Also the heroine Therese of Bitter Angels, which I just put down to pick up again sometime when I'm less in need of comedy, who is described as being middle-aged, though again, immortality. Immortality in fiction may be throwing the numbers off a bit.

Rymenhild @72: That single bit of casting was enough to sell me on the entire film. So, so, so there.

John C. Bunnell @2: I don't buy "Buffy has no legs in syndication because current teens don't buy a show without cell phones" for one single minute. You know what killed Buffy in syndication (and all other syndicated television ever)? This little thing called the Internet. (I bet Buffy does really well on DVD, though.) Also, shouldn't Buffy doing poorly in syndication be an argument against rebooting her?

All I have to say to the new Buffy movie is that, while I have no problem with the concept of remakes in general, in the universe where I am Supreme Ruler, remakes are not allowed to be made until more than two decades have passed since the last remake of the same property. Special exemptions in cases where the last remake was generally considered to really suck (see: Enterprise) will be considered at the Supreme Ruler's whim. Buffy emphatically does not qualify for an exemption.

#83 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 12:28 AM:

I used to GM a game with the fantasy equivalent of cell phones/transporters (Trumps in Amber Diceless RPG). This was well before I, or anyone in the games, had one, so I know I missed a good few tricks.

It's doable. It's occasionally useful and fun, particularly if they're tappable. But you have to just live with instantaneous information spread and rapid co-ordination among separated characters.

You can have plenty of fun with them, though. Service can always be intermittent; there's no one more alone than someone whose phone is out of batteries or bars in a neighborhood where there are no pay phones. And more and more people keep information in them that they don't have in their heads, so you can take more from them by stealing their phone and wallet than you could twenty years ago by just stealing their wallet.

#84 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 12:37 AM:

Kevin Riggle, #82: "I don't buy 'Buffy has no legs in syndication because current teens don't buy a show without cell phones' for one single minute. You know what killed Buffy in syndication (and all other syndicated television ever)? This little thing called the Internet. (I bet Buffy does really well on DVD, though.)"

Quite. That's certainly my impression. Hell, this household owns two bought-and-paid-for sets of all seven seasons on DVD. (Okay, so the boxed set with the extra disk came up as an Amazon Gold Box Special for like $59 one day. Yes, we're pathetic.)

John C. Bunnell, #33: "[W]hereas Buffy is a vampire series, it was never -- unlike the two other big tween vampire franchises -- a soap opera. Sure, there was romance, but Buffy was and is essentially an action/adventure series with romantic elements"

This may hinge on differing understandings of the term "soap opera," but I pretty much completely disagree--BtVS was a soap opera with intermittent action/adventure elements, and that's one of the things that was good about it. (Similarly, the secret of the classic Ditko/Romita Spider-Man in the 1960s was that it was really a love comic with occasional outbursts of superheroics.) Twilight is also a soap opera; it's just much, much crappier soap.

#85 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 12:45 AM:

Rymenhild @ 72:
I have high hopes for Helen Mirren as Prospero, I mean Prospera, in Julie Taymor's upcoming Tempest.

OMG, yes! But then I will watch just about anything Taymor has anything to do with (except "Titus" because it's just too graphic for me). I fell in love with her work originally because she works so well with puppets, and I keep hoping that one day she'll do something with a wayang kulit shadowpuppet theater. And I like Helen Mirren's acting a great deal, too.

I'd say Julie Taymor qualifies as a crone at this point (she's almost as old as I am!) and I'm very glad to have her in the business even if she does stay on the other side of the camera.

#86 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 12:49 AM:

Avram @61:

I don't think that the ctrl-Z on Spock's death was what caused the decline of the film series. In Search Of The Search For Spock was the best of the odd-numbered films, in my opinion, almost good enough to have an even number.

What happened, I think, is that they dropped the pursuit of a greater story. The films stopped depending on one another for a growing narrative of character and universe. They went back to being a wagon train to the stars, albeit a more expensive one.

#87 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 01:08 AM:

Older women on the tube: Allison Janney as CJ on The West Wing?

The job the character held demanded an older woman; you wouldn't have a 20-something as WH Press Secretary or subsequently WH Chief of Staff.

#88 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 05:12 AM:

Buffy the Movie was prime sleepover fodder in high school -- so I totally for sure remember it.

But does anyone else find it sort of baffling that they're updating the tech to make the movie more relevant? By actively incorporating the Latest Technological Contrivances, they're more likely to very tightly date-stamp the entire thing...

Also, it's Just So Terribly Meta that we're now looking at a cheap schlocky remake of a cheap schlocky cult classic. But they're definitely on the right track for a would-be cult classic, starting by stripping out all the established talent from the cast & crew. Now if only they can constrain themselves to a shoestring budget, while refraining from self-awareness...

#89 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 05:37 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 69:

Note that I said "original ... venture capitalists". I was talking about the VCs of the 1970s and '80s, who started companies like Intel, IMSAI, Apple, Connection Machines, SGI, Lisp Machines, Symbolics ... . Only 2 companies in that list survived. Admittedly, contemporary VCs are much more risk-averse than the giants of old. And no, VCs don't go bankrupt; the companies they invest in often do, however. Note also that production companies and studios do occasionally go bankrupt or are bought at pennies on the dollar by other studios.

Sure, but several of those companies which eventually died were successful for a time: Symbolics in the early/mid-1980s, Thinking Machines in the late 1980s/early 1990s (and when it went bankrupt, it had been in business for over 10 years), and SGI was a poster-child for Silicon Valley success during much of the 1990s.

Movies, on the other hand, are transient, one-shot events: they have a few months to make a profit, and then they're effectively gone. (Syndication, DVDs, etc. allow a kind of half-life, but success in the latter depends a lot on their initial success. Movies which fail at the box office but make lots of money later on are a rarity.) Movies are, perhaps, more analogous to products from an individual tech company, except that tech company products tend to have more consistency, and no one thinks badly of them when they introduce a new version of the previous product....

So it looks to me as though movie studios and production companies take risks -- as in the risk of losing enough of their own money to go bankrupt -- that VCs don't.

#90 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 05:57 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 69:

Re Babylon 5 and "teh gay" -- I'm not sure that we actually saw Ivanova and Talia kiss... but yes, you're exactly right about that difference between B5 and ST:TNG.

There was also the delightful moment in the 4th season when Marcus and Dr. Franklin arrive on Mars to contact the Resistance and are told, "I'm afraid the only place we could find for you is the honeymoon suite at the hotel; your cover is that you're a newlywed couple from Earth." Which very economically lets us know that in 23rd Century Earth/Mars society, gay married couples are sufficiently accepted and mundane that they'll work as cover identities...

It's played largely as a joke, but the joke works on at least two levels. In addition to the obvious absurdity for typical 1990s American viewers ("a honeymoon suite for two guys?!"), the previous episode had shown Marcus and Franklin, en route to Mars, bickering and getting on each others' nerves to the point where the idea that they could possibly be a blissful romantic couple is absurd in and of itself. (And I've occasionally wondered whether there was a further layer to the joke, in that the two men's bickering on the journey could, in retrospect, be read as appropriate for some old married couples....)

#91 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 07:52 AM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden@4 Hell, this household owns two bought-and-paid-for sets of all seven seasons on DVD. (Okay, so the boxed set with the extra disk came up as an Amazon Gold Box Special for like $59 one day. Yes, we're pathetic.)

This household owns the same number of complete sets of Buffy, for the same reason. Which may not be evidence that we're not pathetic, but does demonstrate that you're not alone.

Like Abi I had failed to fully consider the implications of this being a movie, not a series. I very much doubt these people can make a movie fans will enjoy - surely the first half will have to be introducing the character/coming of age? We've totally already been through that (and done well, over time). Maybe that's not their aim, but if they're not making it for the fans, who are they making it for?

Fray, on the other hand, would make an excellent movie. Although I guess that would be a whole other kettle of rights.

#92 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 08:02 AM:

I should have added to 91 above - I found it both expedient and grating that the Trek reboot prodded the main characters together with little more than a nod and a wink.

The feeling was "that's Scotty, you know all about him..." and then suddenly everyone is in their traditional role, with no actual time for the characters themselves to have built up the relationships they're inhabiting. On the other hand, if ever there was a movie that could expect the audience to already have a passing familiarity with the characters, this was it.

#93 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 10:51 AM:

Russ @ #27: It's perfectly possible to watch a season in a weekend, but it pretty much rules out "much else" (IIRC, one season is ~18 hours, so 11 eps per day (~9 hours) is probably close to some sort of mental limit).

SeanH @ #32:
Now, now. I was never fond of "Buffy - the TV series", since it wasn't "Buffy - the film" (other than sharing some elements). Specifically, the TV series didn't seem to be slapstick.

abi @ #83:
Hm, I wonder if I remember you from the Amber mailing list? Not that I've been subscribed since the computer crash of 2005 (or maybe 2006), but...

#94 ::: John C. Bunnell ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 11:09 AM:

Kevin@82:
As I keep pointing out regarding the "no cellphones = unsellable in syndication" theory -- the argument didn't originate with me, and I too have reservations about it. (OTOH, I don't think anyone's seriously attempted to argue that Buffy has done well for itself in syndication. With seven seasons' worth of episodes and a cult following, the show really should have a better track record in reruns than has in fact been the case.)

On a broader scale: the Internet may have temporarily killed the syndication market for hour-long drama, but it's been rising zombie-like from the grave in the last few years. A good deal of the action is on cable, but over-the-air is back, too. As I noted earlier, I have multiple sources for over-the-air Stargate reruns (both SG-1 and Atlantis, plus SG:U a season behind cable). Syndicated eruns of recent crime-procedural series dominate late night and weekend programming here (Portland, OR). And in original syndication, note that Legend of the Seeker has actually managed to run for more than a single season.

Meanwhile, as indicated in #16, I actually agree with you about the economic justification (or lack thereof) for remaking the movie....

#95 ::: John C. Bunnell ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 11:44 AM:

Patrick@#84:
Regarding definitions of "soap opera": my general contention is that the phrase describes a serial drama wherein the primary focus -- both on a per-episode and per-season/ongoing level -- is on character relationships. Thus, The Young & the Restless is soap opera; likewise Beverly Hills 90210 and Desperate Housewives.

My sense of Buffy is that while character relationships were a strong secondary focus -- and occasionally a primary focus -- on an extended basis, the majority of individual episodes and seasonal plot arcs focused on defeating external threats. There's a lot of "monster of the week" going on in the early seasons, and the structure in later seasons involving the defeat of a "Big Bad" is primarily an action/adventure construct. Thus my characterization of the series as action/adventure first and character-driven second.

For purposes of comparison, I'd bring up two other CW-originated genre series: Charmed and Smallville. I'm not sure whether Charmed started out as soap opera, but my sense is that it turned into one no more than halfway into its run; the leading characters' romantic relationships were what was driving the narrative. Smallville is a trickier case -- it was explicitly developed to emphasize both action and soap-operatic relationship drama in roughly equal proportion. (I'd call Smallville soapier than Buffy overall, but there's probably room for discussion on that one.)

#96 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 12:48 PM:

Tossing my hat into the ring ... I don't see what's wrong with "monster-of-the-week" episodes.

Really.

They were usually my favorites on the X-Files, and my favorite Buffy eps are also dominated by MotW ones.

In fact, I've characterized a standard problem of series mystery novels that sometimes also flows over into long-running TV shows: the subplots rise up and drown the main reason I was reading it.

In mystery novels, it's a rare author who makes it more than five books into a series before there ends up being a whoooooole book about straightening out the poor character's messed up love life/family situation/etc -- with usually about 1/8th of a book of what I consider ACTUAL PLOT. You know, the reasons I was reading the book in the first place??

Some authors manage to pull out of it after several books of slough-of-despond. Most, I don't stick around to see ...

For me, the Anita Blake books fell away from plot and into OMG MY PERSONAL LIFE right around Blue Moon. Similarly, I adored the Kate Shugak mysteries until they shot [spoiler] and she had to spend THREE BOOKS moping around depressively.

I mean, I get it, these things happen to real people ... and when Bujold does it to Miles, she manages to still have a whole book's worth of plot in the book, TOO. Maybe I'm spoiled. :->

The Holly Winter dog-lover's mysteries lasted longer than usual before getting unreadably broken this way, but they still broke. Agatha Christie didn't use to do this. The Napoleon Bonaparte mysteries out of Australia managed to have a LOT of backstory and deepening character-bits without ever actually throwing the book out the window to spend three novels wallowing ...

So I stopped watching each Law & Order or CSI series when they dove away from, y'know, the ACTUAL CASES into soap operatic nonsense that I feel is really extraneous to the main point of the show. Supernatural became unwatchable for me right around that whole 'shoot the devil and come back from Hell' subplot arc, which is a shame, because I was really loving it up until then, and would have happily continued watching it till Jensen Ackles got too old to bash down doors with his shoulder anymore.

Am I really that far from their desired target demographic? Does everyone else actually watch it FOR that, and sit through the MotW eps boredly waiting for it to get schmoopy again?

#97 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 01:48 PM:

It occurs to me that BtVS sends up soap opera tropes as ably as it sends up horror ones. In s5, the episodes leading up to "The Body" hew closely to a classic soap opera brain tumor storyline, which is undone by the stark realism of that episode (I mean, really: nobody on soap opera has ever been shown knocked to her knees and vomitting on the rug, have they?).

#98 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 02:40 PM:

Avram @62: see Scott McCloud.

::shame-faced:: Um. Yes. Um.

#99 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 02:41 PM:

Sarah E @64: at what age do we become crones? : )

50, is what I hear.

#100 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 02:44 PM:

Ingvar @93:
I wonder if I remember you from the Amber mailing list? Not that I've been subscribed since the computer crash of 2005 (or maybe 2006), but...

Martin and I were active on that list from about 1994 until 1997 or 1998, when we kind of burned out on Amber after (a) serving on the committee for the Scottish Ambercon (Clan Amber, which only ran one year); (b) being excluded, out of the blue, from our local game in Edinburgh for reasons still unclear; and (c) the couple including my GMing partner for our multi-stage con game broke up messily.

So you might remember me. I've lost all my archives long since, but if you were on then we may well have interacted. It was a fun list, though rather prone to periodic iterations of Oh No Not This Thrash Again.

#101 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 03:26 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft @71: I've seen some speculation that the reason you are starting to see more older women in the fashion magazines lately is that we are the only ones who actually HAVE some money to spend -- the twenty-somethings just getting out of college are having a helluva time finding work.

I imagine the the Boomers demographic bubble probably contribues the the fashion influence, also.

Who knows, maybe that demographic will drive something to happen in movies and TV.

The other factor is women working their way up the power hierarchies, as well. I've been pleased to see more female names turning up in the writing, directing, and producing credits of mainstream television, at least. (Oddly, TV SF seems to be lagging in this trend; another manifestation of SF's history of male domination?)

Oh, heavens, how could I forget Amanda Tapping's Magnus!? She's approaching "a certain age," and certainly manages to kick butt.

Speaking for myself, we were well into the '90s before I started seeing even a few women characters I had any interest in identifying with. (And they were all younger than me.) Buffy and Sam Carter are the only two who leap to mind. Before that, I can't think of any females I would take as role models, except Whoopi Goldberg.

And even so, female attactiveness is still freighted with the whole "beauty" culture. I can't think of a female counterpart to, say, Tommy Lee Jones. (Looping back neatly to the discusson of Joss Whedon's "feminism.")*

This whole line of thinking was prompted for me when I noticed that I was finding it impossible to run my personal Mary Sue using my current identity/appearance. And trying to run it with a younger, "prettier" image of myself feels hollow and unsatisfying.

This is the first time I've really run slap up against the "role model" problem. It's very disconcerting, and I'm not sure what I think about it.

*Although this may be starting to crumble, as well. I was very heartened when I listened to the commentary for the Stargate Atlantis episode "Grace Under Pressure." Tapping had just had a baby when that episode was shot, and commented on how uncomfortable she felt looking at herself. The male producer and writer were at some pains to reassure her that she looked just fine.

#102 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 03:28 PM:

And when we men turn 50, we become distinguished.
("You mean extinguished.")
Shush.

#103 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 03:31 PM:

Lee @73: The sense that even major characters can die is part of what raises good drama above the level of schlock. Hell, Ursula Vernon just did this in her Digger webcomic, and gave the fans a blog post in which to vent and discuss their feelings about it. Boromir's death in LOTR (and Gandalf's apparent death as well) lends a lot more oomph to the perils the other characters get into later on.

OTOH, this can be overdone (abused?). This is one of my main complaints about Stargate Universe. They are, in my opinion, overusing that option, which makes it hard for me to get invested in any of the characters, and the characters are why I've always loved Stargate. (Well, it's what draws me to anything, really.)

#104 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 03:32 PM:

Elliott Mason (96): I always liked the MOTW episodes of The X-Files best, too.

On the other hand, I'm still reading the Kate Shugak books. My favorite of those is Breakup, which is before your spoiler, but still focuses heavily on Kate's personal life. The mystery in that is not only minor, but almost a distraction. (And I hate the resolution.) My favorite minor character, hands-down, is the harbormaster in Killing Grounds, S. Seagull.

#105 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 03:40 PM:

Jacque @103:

I agree that you only get to kill off so many characters before everyone's shirts begin to look a little too red for a person to get attached to them. And since love is the elementary particle of fandom, that's destructive of the relationship with the viewers/readers.

You also only get to resurrect a character a certain number of times before death becomes cheap. And it's a low number, too.

Real-life example: I was reading LOTR to my children. We got to the prophecy that "no living man" could kill the Witch-King. My kids know the tropes of fantasy and fairy tales well enough to know that kind of phrasing means that someone will kill him by the end of the book; the trick is figuring out who fits the definition.

Their suggestion, in the light of Gandalf's reappearance?

Zombie Boromir.

#106 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 03:42 PM:

Jacque @ #101, "a female Tommy Lee Jones" was exactly what I was trying to imagine a few days ago, when musing about my daughter's career prospects. She's an actor and stunt performer. She is slim and lovely, but has actual muscles and far more character in her face than on-screen girls are supposed to have. This has limited her career options--hence the move into stunt work, which is more of a meritocracy (body size is still a problem, though--if you're doubling for an actress who's a Size 2, there's a pretty strict upper limit on your size.)

#107 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 03:48 PM:

Elliott, #96: IMO most people have a balance point between "plot-driven" and "character-driven", and in that sense you may well be an outlier on the plot-driven side. I know I'm much further over toward character-driven; for example, I gave up on the Cat Who mysteries after 3 books* because I considered the characters to be essentially cardboard cutouts, there to be decorated with Flashing Quirks -- they didn't feel like real people to me. And when the characters do feel real, then I get emotionally invested in them just the way you would in your RL friends, and I care about what happens in their personal lives too.

That said, I don't want character-building at the expense of plot, and I've posted at least one book review which specifically mentioned that I found the balance a bit lacking on the plot side. Also, the downside of being character-oriented is that I find it much harder to get into books with protagonists I find unlikeable (*cough* Harry Dresden *cough*), and I'll abandon series which take character turns I find unrealistic or seriously annoying; I gave up on Susan Wittig Albert's herbalist mysteries when she shamelessly used a plot device to shoehorn her main characters into a marriage I considered both unnecessary and ill-advised, and I quit watching Bones in utter disgust when they retconned it at the beginning of season 4 to remove all the things I'd specifically liked about it in favor of fanservice B/B shipping.

Does everyone else actually watch it FOR that, and sit through the MotW eps boredly waiting for it to get schmoopy again?

In my case at least, it's more that if there isn't some character-development stuff, eventually the characters stop feeling real, and that's what makes me get bored. Real People don't go thru life unchanged, and Real Stories need to reflect that to hold my interest.**


* Not the first three, but three random ones from a friend who was a big fan.

** And as always, there are exceptions to that. Father Brown doesn't change, but I still like those stories. Brother Cadfael, OTOH, definitely does change over the course of the series, and I like him better.

#108 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 03:52 PM:

vian @76 & Bruce Cohen @85 + others: See how cleverly I turned this thread into a shopping list of new works to explore? Heh.

Linkmeister @87: Older women on the tube: Allison Janney as CJ on The West Wing?

Well, she qualifies as older now. I definitely didn't parse her as "older" during the run of the show, though. But maybe that's just me. Mrs. Landingham, OTOH...! I could definitely deal with growing up to be her. And now you've reminded me of Stockard Channing.

#109 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 03:59 PM:

Peter Erwin @90: when Marcus and Dr. Franklin arrive on Mars ... gay married couples are sufficiently accepted and mundane that they'll work as cover identities...

Am I alone in appreciating the progress implied by this settup sailing, apparently unnoticed, right over the fact that they would also be an interracial couple?

#110 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 04:17 PM:

When "Smallville" started, it basically was MotW. That raised a few problems for an ongoing series. If most of what you do is the MotW, then you wind up having to top last week's MotW. Nobody wants to go from a mutant who eats steel to one who can turn margerine into rancid peanut butter. It's possible to have a balance between character and the MotW. That being said, I gave up on "Smallville" when they placed Smallville a short ride away from Metropolis.

#111 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 04:21 PM:

Elliott Mason @96: Am I really that far from their desired target demographic? Does everyone else actually watch it FOR that, and sit through the MotW eps boredly waiting for it to get schmoopy again?

I can't speak to "target demographic,"* but I'm definitely one who tolerates the MotW to get to the characters and their relationships. It's a tough balance to strike; SG1 succeeded often enough to keep me coming back, but I could count on at least a quarter of a season being lost to running around in corridors hiding from this week's comic-opera villain.

When MotW is good, it can be very very good, but when it's bad, well. OTOH, some of my favorite episodes involve characters locked in a closet waiting to be rescued. (Of course, when that one goes bad, well, um, too.)

The best case scenario for my taste is when the MotW (or Case otW, in mysteries and procedurals) is engaging in it's own right, and also scritches up all the demons within and conflicts between characters.

But, you know, Sturgeon.

*Hell, I'm still wrapping my head around Rush (my favorite character) in SGU being the main character!? (Took me half of the first season to work that one out, it falls so far out of the standard TV structure that I grew up with.)

#112 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 04:26 PM:

Serge @102: And when we men turn 50, we become distinguished. / ("You mean extinguished.") / Shush.

You joke, but a friend pointed out to me a long time ago that men often don't really become truly attractive until they're well into their 40s. My sense is that it takes them that long to, kind of, move in and unpack, as it were.

#113 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 04:30 PM:

Lila @106: Your daugher has, I trust, read Stardance?

From your description, she sounds lovely, just the sort of woman I enjoy looking at. Are there images of her online somewhere? (I'm always looking for new people to draw, and my portfolio is seriously deficient in female faces.)

#114 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 04:38 PM:

Jacque, Rush is an antihero. Personally I was hoping Eli would work out as the main character, since he's the most lovable of them all (as opposed to Scott, who's likable and lustable, but not as great as Eli), but I fear you may be right.

Fear? Yes. I detest Rush, and keep hoping someone will airlock the selfish, arrogant, murdering bastard.

#115 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 04:41 PM:

Serge @110: If most of what you do is the MotW, then you wind up having to top last week's MotW.

And this, if anything, is the rock on which the Stargate ship is going to sink. In an effort to keep being New! and Exciting!, they keep enlarging the scale of their stories. To the expense, IMHO, of the characters which are, as stated previously, my reason for coming back.

I keep thinking of a quote I heard on Charlie Rose.

I think it was actor Peter O'Toole, talking about the early days of his theatre career, and the challenge of creating a fresh performance every night, for months or years on end. The temptation to become more histrionic is very strong, evidently.

A mentor, however, pointed out to him a salient distinction: "Go deeper, not broader."

It's interesting watching long-term TV series with this perspective in mind.

#116 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 05:49 PM:

One more comment on the one-phone-per-village in 1920s England - according to my grandfather, that was totally accurate and one of the things that made my great-grandparents realize that nothing had changed since their departure from Suffolk circa 1906; whereupon they returned to their adopted hometown of Ogema, Saskatchewan and never looked back.

#117 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 05:55 PM:

Xopher @114: Jacque, Rush is an antihero.

Right enough, but he has had enough flashes of vulnerability to hook me in.1

It is possible to do a truly compelling antihero. Blake's Seven was good even in the beginning, but it didn’t really start working for me until they finally lost (yawn!) Rog Blake, and Avon took over.2

Personally I was hoping Eli would work out as the main character, since he's the most lovable of them all (as opposed to Scott, who's likable and lustable, but not as great as Eli),

Right with you here. I love Eli. I was expecting that he would be the "main" character. I would definitely like to see more of him.3

but I fear you may be right.

Actually, it's rather explicit in the structure of the show: Carlyle is the first credited actor, and his image is front and center on all of the advertising. The cast and producers both refer to him as "our number one."

Sociologically, I'm really pleased. Growing up, the characters I was most interested in4 were always, at best, second string. The "main character" was usually so boring and vanilla as to make me scream at the story-time wasted on him. I really like that Rush is the focal character in SGU. But:

I detest Rush, and keep hoping someone will airlock the selfish, arrogant,

...these are the seasonings that make the character interesting, but I do agree that they’ve taken it too far. 5

murdering bastard.

Well, now. Certainly, all of deaths could be laid at Rush's door as damage collateral to his single-minded obsession, some more directly than others. But:

V qba’g erpnyy gung ur npghnyyl zheqrerq nalobql hagvy Fvzrba, naq gung bar V pna’g snhyg uvz ba. Va snpg, vg jnf Lbhat jub gevrq gb zheqre uvz.

I think I get what the producers are trying to do. I'm not wild about the execution, but I'm willing to go along for the ride for now.

1Rush is, essentially, a character I have been trying unsuccessfully to write for about fifteen years.

2And I normally hate arch-enemies. They almost always bore me to tears. But Servalan is the Best. Villain. EVAR.

3When I first saw David Blue on Ugly Betty, he caught my eye immediately. "Wow. This boy is good!" I'm more tickled than I can say that he turns out to be a fan, too.

4Spock, Illya Kuriakin, and Bill Cosby's Alexander Scott in I Spy, &c.

5This is true for the whole show, actually. I think they’ve taken the "dark" and "realistic" aspects too far, occassionally tipping over into: "Really? Why is this fun, again?"

#118 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 05:59 PM:

Jacque @ 117... they finally lost (yawn!) Rog Blake, and Avon took over

You too?

#119 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 06:01 PM:

John C. Bunnell@94

I'm wondering whether it's really accurate to say that Buffy has done poorly in syndication. The fact that a netlet hour-long is even still IN syndication more than seven years after it went off the air probably should be regarded as at least somewhat impressive.

#120 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 06:03 PM:

Serge @118: What can I say? Old women and antiheroes. The Brits are just better at it than we are.

#121 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 06:10 PM:

I keep forgetting to say, about Buffy in syndication, that part of the problem may be that FX* showed it four hours a day for several years; that level of exposure would burn out practically anything.

*or was it TNT? All I know is that for a while it was shown against Angel, which challenged my ability to catch up with canon while there were still new shows.

#122 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 06:11 PM:

Jacque @ 112... Basically, getting rid of most of the crap about what a man is supposed to be? (Something that a certain recent President apparently never went thru.)

#123 ::: John C. Bunnell ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 06:22 PM:

Elliot@#96, Lee@#107:
I should observe here that my usage of "soap opera" and "monster of the week" is intended in a purely descriptive sense, and neither phrase is intended to reflect an assessment of quality. As I hope I've indicated, my basic intent was to draw a distinction between plot-driven and character-driven storytelling, and to show why I find Buffy a primarily plot-driven series.

It may be worth adding here that in the purest form of "soap opera" storytelling, the serial is structured in such a way that there is never a true ending or resolution. No relationship is ever assured of a happily-ever-after; indeed, the stronger a relationship looks, the likelier it is that something will come along and smash it to smithereens. This is why those TV daytime dramas can go on for forty and fifty years; marriage in a true soap is about as permanent as death is in superhero comics.

Interestingly, this sets up a direct contrast between the soap-operatic (mostly TV) treatment of romance and the treatment of romance in the print-publishing genre. In soap opera, what's important is ultimately what we might call the process of the relationship; it matters less who the characters are than how their interactions play out. In print genre romance, the resolution is everything; readers need and expect the Happily Ever After.

#124 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 07:13 PM:

Re above the mention of a household owning two complete sets of the seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: So does ours, and I am the only one of us two who watches them. Out of our permanent home for the nonce neither set of BtVS came down with me. But I'm watching eps streaming on netflix. Does that count for something? It's the first time I've watched without starting at ep 1, season 1 and working my way through chronologically. I get a bee about a particular episode, or am just in the mood to bag everything for Buffy.

Love, C.

#125 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 07:47 PM:

Jacque, V'z pbhagvat nyy gur gvzrf ur xabjvatyl frag bgure crbcyr gb arne-pregnva qrngu, naq bayl yhpx fnirq gurz. Ohg jung V ernyyl oynzr uvz sbe vf gur qrngu bs gur thl jub qvrq va gur fuhggyr penfu (gur bar Lbhat npghnyyl unq gb fzbgure). Ur qvq gung whfg gb pbire hc uvf svaqvat bs gur pbageby ebbz.

I don't think Rush is the main character. I think he's the arch-villain.

#126 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 07:57 PM:

jacque @ #113, Here's one.

Here's a commercial for hospital scrubs showing some of her stunt work. There are 3 chapters. In each chapter, she's the one getting in trouble.

#127 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 07:58 PM:

Jacque @111: The best case scenario for my taste is when the MotW (or Case otW, in mysteries and procedurals) is engaging in it's own right, and also scritches up all the demons within and conflicts between characters.

My classic example of this is Forever Knight, where the title character (a vampire! Who doesn't want to kill people! And works as a cop on night shift! Hey, it was original then) ends up being reminded of bits of his past with nearly every case. Observing this pattern led John and I to opine that there ought to be a special ticket just for Nick Knight, Duncan McLeod, et al: Driving while flashing back.

I should clarify. I love characters. What I hate is schmoopy excessive MY LIFE SUXXORS WAH drama draped all over everything, and displacing plot by its sheer syrupy volume. :->

#128 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 08:21 PM:

Coming in late to the thread and thinking for a moment you were referring to Rush Limbaugh.

#129 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 08:23 PM:

Jacque: Buffy and Sam Carter are the only two who leap to mind. Before that, I can't think of any females I would take as role models, except Whoopi Goldberg.

Mrs. Emma Peel?

#130 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 09:55 PM:

I assume that the reason Buffy does poorly in syndication is that after the first season, watching an episode with no context is baffling. There are a few eps that don't rely on a reasonably detailed knowledge of the characters, current half-season arc, and overall season arc, but... not many. Contrast with Law and Order, which you can sit down to at any moment, in any season, (and usually at any point in a given episode) and figure out what's going on inside of two minutes. I adore Buffy and own it, but trying to show a random episode to a friend requires heavy use of the pause button so they have a clue what they're supposed to react to.

I don't think this is a bad thing - the degree to which character development and plot development are intertwined is why I like the show, I think - but it doesn't make it random-hotel-room friendly.

#131 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2010, 11:10 PM:

I liked Forever Knight; I wouldn't mind a reboot of that, or of Ron Koslow's Beauty and the Beast.

#132 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 12:02 AM:

Earl Cooley III @131: I'm afraid for any ForKni reboot, because I think they'd mess it up. They'd make it A Vampire Show, and it was never actually that.

It was A Cop Show, With Vampires.

Well, and lots of quasi-historical flashback sequences.

#133 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 12:08 AM:

I'm not sure if this says more about me or about the lack of mature female action heros, but the first thing I thought of was Surf Nazis Must Die.

When the grandson of a gun wielding woman is murdered by neo-nazi surf punks in the post-apocalyptic future, this grandma hunts them down for some bloodthirsty revenge.
#134 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 12:09 AM:

Um, "heroes." Geez.

#135 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 12:35 AM:

I don't think anyone has yet mentioned the aspect of the Buffy series that I find most interesting: it's a coming of age story; actually a set of stories: Buffy's, Willow's, and Xander's, and later Dawn's and even Anya's (well, maybe a becoming human story for her). The characters start as teenagers: young kids trying to figure out what it means not to be really young kids any more, and learn about power, success, responsibility, love, sex, loss, and all those other things that you have to understand as part of maturing into adult humans.

JESR @ 97:

I agree; "The Body" is one of the two episodes that stands out from the rest of the series in tone and subject matter: it breaks the fantasy of the rest of the series to show how life and death intrude on everything else we do and make them insignificant. The other episode is the one where Buffy discovers that everything that's been happening to her in the series is a delusion, and she's really incarcerated in an institution for the criminally insane. It's handled for laughs at the end, but it's clear that Buffy realizes the nature of the choice she's making to reject what may in fact be "reality". IIRC there's an echo of that towards the end of the last season, where Buffy is reminded that what she's seeing may not be real, but that she must choose one or the other alternative.

#136 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 01:17 AM:

Bruce, #135: The insane-asylum episode was played for laughs at the end? Man, that ending freaked me out for days, even though I was perfectly aware of why it did; it was a very skillful inversion of the normal "it's a dream" trope. By choosing to have the very last scene be of the asylum doctor telling Buffy's parents, "We've lost her," Whedon messed with the viewer's certainty about what was real and what wasn't -- normally in such a story, the final scene is set in the character's normal world, so the tension between the two competing "realities" is not fully resolved. And yes, that's one of the things which made it an amazing episode -- but it would absolutely not be the right one with which to introduce someone to the series.

#137 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 01:23 AM:

Jacque @117:
Blake's Seven was good even in the beginning, but it didn’t really start working for me until they finally lost (yawn!) Rog Blake, and Avon took over.

Well, yes on plot, but no on writing. I always thought Blake was the sand that made Avon's pearls*.

Things like:

I am not expendable, I'm not stupid, and I'm not going.

And, of course:

As far as I'm concerned you can destroy whatever you like. You can stir up a thousand revolutions. You can wade in blood up to your armpits. Oh, and you can lead the rabble to victory -- whatever that may mean.

They never would have been said without Blake around to provoke him.

-----
* And I mean that in a purely platonic fashion.

#138 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 02:06 AM:

Peter Erwin@90:

In addition to the obvious absurdity for typical 1990s American viewers ("a honeymoon suite for two guys?!")
Actually, if memory serves me right there was quite a bit of national conversation about same-sex marriage right around that time, and that was JMS's way of registering his opinion about it. It wasn't just something he threw in out of the blue.

#139 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 02:07 AM:

I never warmed to Blake's Seven, but talk about Blake vs Avon as protagonists reminds me of Deadwood, where the hero, Sheriff Seth Bullock, acts as a foil for the protagonist, Al Swearingen.

#140 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 02:34 AM:

I've never been able to bring myself to rewatch "The Body"...it happened to air one week after my grandfather died, and I watched it the first time with tears streaming down my face.

#141 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 05:23 AM:

abi @ #100:
I initially subscribed in, um, 1993-or-1994, mostly eyed the emails from 1997-or-so until my mail server was dead for a week or two and I was auto-unsubscribed.

I did post occasionally, but very much read more than posted (not, entirely, unlike here).

#142 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 06:25 AM:

I've heard that the remake of "The Prisoner" was quite dreadful.

#143 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 06:31 AM:

Re: Lee@107

Is there a handy fandom dictionary/reference somewhere in the tubes? I pick up bits here and there, but I'm afraid "B/B" left me stumped.

I know you're expressing a personal dislike of Harry, Lee, which you're more than entitled to. Yet I feel compelled to stand up for him a little;*&dagger he does, after all, work hard and mean very well. I guess I find it easier/possible to get past the flaws.**

* did someone mention becoming invested in characters as though they were RL friends?

** which are clearly deliberate on Jim's part

&dagger Ob. punct. meta re: footnotes; "*." doesn't work for me, ".*" looks right, but maybe that's because ".*" is a common regexp so I'm used to seeing it. Is there an actual rule, here, as with punctuation in quotes?

#144 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 06:51 AM:

re: Buffy

My top three favourite episodes are Once More With Feeling, Hush, and Dopplegangland*

But the two most memorable/affecting episodes are The Body and Normal Again. There are others that reach through the structure of the show and touch my heart, but those are the two that reliably cause literal tears and shivers.

* Evil Willow :D

#145 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 09:09 AM:

Russ @ #143:
I suspect, but don't know, that it is "Bones / Booth" (the title character and the male FBI guy).

#146 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 09:19 AM:

Ingvar M@145

D'oh! You're probably right. I assumed I was missing some terminology (as is usually the case), and failed to see the obvious. Thanks.

#147 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 10:46 AM:

Jacque @ 103

Stargate Universe strikes me as being an odd duck of a TV series compared to the original series in the franchise. (I haven't watched SG Atlantis.) I liked the early episodes a lot - but then it was a Noah's ark/Robinson Caruso plot line. Once they got their arcology issues solved, the only other way to add tension is to switch to a Reality TV format where the focus is on rivalries and internal power struggles. It's much better for morale (the group's and the viewers) if the characters have to pull together against an outside force. Hence the deaths. Friendly, helpful aliens would be counterproductive to ratcheting up the tension.

I just hope they do something with the Invincibility Field that certain characters are developing. It's starting to get annoying.

#148 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 10:57 AM:

I've been finding this conversation extremely interesting, because I've been watching Buffy for the very first time in the past month.

I'm not sure why I never watched it when it was on in the first place. But now it's all on Netflix instant-watch. I'm about halfway through season 3 as of this writing. (Don't worry about spoilers. I'd overheard enough bits and pieces before even starting to watch it, and I wouldn't have even started reading this thread if I'd wanted to remain spoiler-free. Knowing plot points in advance hasn't spoiled my enjoyment of watching how they unfold. Quite the opposite -- it's like finally hearing someone tell the whole story of something I'd only heard alluded to before. Very satisfying to see how it all comes together.)

My perspective is this: I was more or less of an age with the characters. I was a year behind them in high school, according to the years established in the show. So it could be easier for me to identify with them; I don't know.

Based on what I've seen so far, I don't think there's a need for a reboot if the purpose is to make it accessible and watchable for first-time viewers in 2010. The plots don't feel dated to me. The character drama is pretty universal high school joy and angst.

Of course, it's 10 years since I graduated high school. It's possible that social networking and constant texting really has changed high school that much. But I don't think so. My mother spent hours on the phone; I spent hours on the phone, IMing, and writing emails; now it's cell phone, texting, and Facebook, but it all does the same thing. Teenagers are just driven to communicate with their friends. Since most of the talking on that show occurs in person anyway, I don't think much would need to change.

There are frequent moments where I giggle at obsolete technology: the dramatic importance of a yellow floppy disk; a 16-year-old not understanding the concept of email; the fact that only a super-duper computer genius is capable of using the internet for research.

In the last episode I watched ("Gingerbread"), there's a scene in which oh no! they can't phone! BUT WAIT -- a stroke of genius! They can use -- INSTANT MESSAGING!

(In that episode, they also magically find on the internet a series of scanned newspaper reports dating all the way back to the 1800s, all related to the mystery in question. Keith remarked "That had to be one hell of a search term." I replied "Especially in 1998.")

The lack of cell phones has only been a problem for me a few times -- and I can think of several plots where it should have been much more of a thing for me. It might be that I am easily slipping back into the way I would have thought about those situations in high school, and temporarily forgetting about the existence of cell phones.

Or it might be that the writing is good enough, the story gripping enough, that I just completely suspend disbelief and accept the technology of their world.

So if the reboot is mostly for modernization, I don't see much point. But if it's an interesting AU, then I can get behind it. And it sounds like it might be going in that direction. It's always interesting to see a story I love retold in a new and cool way. (It sucks to see a story I love retold in a crappy way, of course.)

Apropos of abi @9, this is the same way I felt about the Star Trek reboot movie. It's fun, interesting AU fanfic. Hopefully it leads people to the source material; if not, their loss.

I grew up watching Star Trek; it's close to my heart. But after the first season or so of Voyager, it seemed like attempts to tell new stories in the same universe were weak and floundering. That made me sad. So I was excited and hopeful to see what stories would be told in a new Star Trek AU, when that AU was being made by someone I thought would handle it well.

This may or may not be relevant to Buffy. Sophia McDougall's post implies that maybe it is.

#149 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 11:18 AM:

Serge @122: Basically, getting rid of most of the crap about what a man is supposed to be?

Hee hee. True that! I remember fondly James Earl Jones's puzzlement (expressed on the late, lamented talk show that Whoopi Goldberg did for a little while) over his late development of "sex appeal"—long after he had given up on being sexy.

(Something that a certain recent President apparently never went thru.)

::shudder:: One wonders if he will ever gain that insight.

#150 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 11:37 AM:

Xopher @125: Ur qvq gung whfg gb pbire hc uvf svaqvat bs gur pbageby ebbz.

Did he? I'll have to go back and rewatch. My take was that he basically whfg shpxrq hc, qevira ol fyrrc qrcevingvba whqtrzrag snvy ba gur bar unaq, naq neebtnag bire-ernpu ba gur bgure.

I don't think Rush is the main character. I think he's the arch-villain.

I—er. Um. Hm. I'll have to think about that. You may be on to something here. Actually, the two states are not incompatible, just unconventional. Searching my mind for other stories where the main character is the villain...all I come up with off the top of my head is Hitler (which Carlyle has also played).

From that standpoint, I'd have to give props to the producers for thinking out of the box, even if I find the result less than satisfying.

(And caving in completely to my urge to jam this into the discussion somewhere: for a really interesting contrast, go watch Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School (which is streaming on Netflix). It instantly became one of my all-time favorite movies. I find it particularly fun because Carlyle plays a character that is the precise inverse of Rush.)

#151 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 11:46 AM:

Lila @126: Oh, my yes! Tell her she has my stamp of approval! (Still awfully young yet, though. Won't start being really fun to look at for another ten or fifteen years. :-> )

#152 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 11:53 AM:

Serge@142: The recent Prisoner series was not dreadful.

It was not a good remake of The Prisoner, but we understand that nothing could be; you can't *remake* that without rewinding the world and everybody's heads to the 60s.

I liked the new show's choice of themes. I admired some of the acting. I admired the hell out of the central narrative gimmick. I was not completely pleased by the pacing or the way they wrapped the story up.

I was disappointed by the show's failure to embrace and update the original's mad sense of place. They tried, but it didn't work. That doesn't make it a bad show, but it reflects poorly on their decision to call it "The Prisoner" rather than presenting it as an original thing.

#153 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 12:00 PM:

Elliott Mason @127: I should clarify. I love characters. What I hate is schmoopy excessive MY LIFE SUXXORS WAH drama draped all over everything, and displacing plot by its sheer syrupy volume. :->

Verily. My favorite variant is when Our Hero is fighting through the Challenge of the Week while struggling valiantly (and mostly succeeding) not to come unglued. This is another place SGU has stretched the spandex out of my suspenders of disbelief: Any three of the crises Rush has gone through would be enough to put any RL person in the hospital for a month—at least. In SGU, he just keeps coming back for more, with only passing mentions of the cumulative damage, both physical and psychological.

Maybe my MY LIFE SUXXORS WAH sensors don't get overloaded because I just veer off of shows that play that tune.

Erik Nelson @128: thinking for a moment you were referring to Rush Limbaugh.

Wash your keyboard out with soap, sir!!

Bruce E. Durocher II @129: Mrs. Emma Peel?

Oh, yes, of course! Though it kind of emphasizes my point that (a) you have to reach back 30 years to find her and (b) she's another Brit character.

Tim Walters @133: Yes. ;-)

#154 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 12:02 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @ 152... Yes, with the Cold War over, they had to change something. Still... Did you ever watch "Nowhere Man"? It was set in the real world, and yet it was claustrophobic, and in a way a good spiritual heir to "The Prisoner". By the way, did you know that the latter itself was a descendant of Secret Agent's episode "Colony Three"?

#155 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 12:08 PM:

And, since I caught up on SGU last night -- it's certainly a strange show compared to its predecessors. I've seen people be incensed by that, but I was surfeited each of the earlier Stargate shows well before they wrapped up.

I like Rush. Strike that. I don't like Rush *at all*, even a little bit, but I enjoy watching a show with that character in it. I *do* sympathize with him, a bit, and that is the correct balance.

My main problem with the show is that it's halfhearted about being an ensemble show. It has many characters; they have scenes, they have stories, they have good lines; but in the end I feel like I'm watching a story about Young and Rush, and everybody else is sideshow.

#156 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 12:12 PM:

I watched a few episodes of "Nowhere Man". I definitely recognized the sense of paranoia, but the story wasn't sticky enough to get me hooked. (Or so I dimly remember from many years ago.)

I never had a chance to see much of "Danger Man".

A recent Prisoner riff is a show called "Persons Unknown". I liked the first episode enough to rent the rest of the season, but it hasn't reached the top of my queue yet.

#157 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 12:14 PM:

Serge @142: I've heard that the remake of "The Prisoner" was quite dreadful.

I asked the #1 Prisoner fan in my circle of friends what he thought of it, and he thought it was excellent.

He thought it would have been a mistake to do a standard remake of "The Prisoner"; he appreciated the twist the production brought to it.

That it starred Ian Richardson didn't hurt either.

#158 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 12:45 PM:

More on Old Ladies in British TV -

I've just finished netflixing the last season of MI5 (Spooks in the UK) available here in the US, which is Season 7. It's a contemporary spy drama that's a bit less OTT than Bond. One of the things I really enjoyed about this particular season is that there's an Old Lady. Not the US version of "Ooh, she's almost middle-aged, isn't she BRAVE to go on camera" Old, but grey-haired and a little grandparental. Of an age with one of the dudes in the ensemble, in fact.

Her purpose is not to be grandmotherly and make cookies, but as an actual, vital member of the intelligence community. There is no "point" made anywhere in the series about her age, no plots revolving around her Exceptionalism, she just IS. She and her male counterpart are valuable because of their age and experience. Her arc has been one of my favorites through the series, which includes youngsters and middle-agers of both genders and sometimes an Old Person who does not exist simply to fill some Old Person stereotype.

The Brits also do much better at normal-attractive people having lead roles in TV, as well as women who are a UK size 10 or so who don't exist as a "Ha Ha! Fatty!" plot point.

#159 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 12:53 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @ 156... In "Colony Three", John Drake pretends to be a scientist defecting to the Soviets. They put him on a train and, when he gets off in the middle of nowhere, he finds a British town, or what appears to be one.

Rob Rusick @ 157... It sounds like I should have given it a chance after all. Regarding various approaches that could have been taken... In the mid-1980s, DC published 4-issue comic-book "The Prisoner: Shattered Visage", a sequel to the original that dealt with the changed reality of that decade.

#160 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 01:32 PM:

Serge 142: It was horrible as a remake. If they'd done it fresh under some different title, people would have thought "cool and weird, kind of reminiscent of The Prisoner."

Nothing with Ian McKellen in it can be ENTIRELY bad.

Also, everything Andrew has to say at #152.

Andrew 155: I like Rush. Strike that. I don't like Rush *at all*, even a little bit, but I enjoy watching a show with that character in it. I *do* sympathize with him, a bit, and that is the correct balance.

IOW he's the character you love to hate. Yeah, I can see that. I find him sympathetic occasionally, but it makes me feel dirty. He's such an utter selfish scumbag. I guess it's one of those tension things; when Bones and Booth finally get married on Bones, it will end the show; and when everyone finally rises up in righteous rage and tears Rush limb from limb, it will end SGU.

I relish the episodes when someone beats the shit out of him.

#161 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 01:43 PM:

Thank you, Serge and others, for reminding me about the THE PRISONER remake. Added it to my Netflix queue.

Re Netflix: Some popular blog (Pandagon?) had a recent post about switching to Netflix's new streaming-only subsciption model, because they could watch all they wanted to that way without having to deal with the fershlugginer disks.

Much as I like to save money, I'm keeping my 2-disks-at-a-time subscription. When I took a look at my queue, about 80% of the stuff I want to watch isn't available via streaming yet. Do I just have a taste for unorthodox and obscure stuff?

(But the Netflix streaming option has let me see a few things that aren't offered on DVD. Finally watched I CAPTURE THE CASTLE a few weeks ago, after having it on my "Save" list for several years.)

#162 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 01:56 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @161: I recently switched from 1-DVD-at-a-time to streaming, because -- due to having a toddler around, and other things -- I haven't WATCHED any of my on-DVD Netflixings; whereas I've been plowing through streaming content. No sense paying for (and having not to lose!) something I'm not using, and I can always bump back up if I change my mind.

So far, there are three fairly annoying things I've noticed:

** My on-DVD queue totally disappeared. I was hoping they'd leave it there as a sort of tantalizing temptation to me to resubscribe; especially since the instant anything that was on my DVD queue became available on streaming, it popped up on my streaming queue convenient as can be.

** You can't 'save' anything on a streaming-only subscription: if it's not currently, right-now available to watch, you're responsible for remembering on your own that you want to watch it, and keeping an eye out for it showing up on streaming. Most annoying, esp. as I'd hit 'Save' on a bunch of TV show seasons I'd wanted to stream the instant they were available, and now it won't automatically show. Plus, Netflix doesn't, anymore, know I'm waiting for them.

** The search functionality has been SERIOUSLY broken. As in, I can no longer search for actors. I mean, I CAN, I can type it in the box, and even click on the suggestion, but it then converts it into a search for a movie. The only way to see all titles an actor is in is to find a movie with them in it, click to the movie's page, and click the actor's link. Which, now, only gets me a list of their STREAMING movies -- DVD-only movies are now completely invisible to me.

I'll manage, and it's worth the cost savings, but still: something you should know if you were considering the switch.

As far as what's to watch, I've been watching a lot of TV and a buuuuunch of documentaries. There's a respectable amount of core-curriculum anime available to stream, too.

#163 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 02:04 PM:

abi @137: I always thought Blake was the sand that made Avon's pearls.*1

Yes, you do have a point there. Though post-Blake Avon was not without his gems:

Cally (approximately): Aren't you afraid? Avon: Probably.

----
1...unlike abi, who makes her own pearls: *And I mean that in a purely platonic fashion.2
2 Have I mentioned? This is the best thread ever. Thank you for posting it!
----

Victoria @147: Stargate Universe strikes me as being an odd duck of a TV series compared to the original series in the franchise. … Once they got their arcology issues solved, the only other way to add tension is to ... focus ... on rivalries and internal power struggles.

I think this is the producer's deliberate intent. I think they have, to a degree, succeeded. But:

switch to a Reality TV format

Actually, this is an interesting angle I hadn't thought of. I wonder how deliberate this is? Are they (deliberately or unconsciously) trying to catch a ride on the Reality TV wave?

The more I think about this, the more I wonder. I know that at least some of the writers are big fans of Survivor. But they seem to have missed that Survivor's conflict is entirely artificial.

This is another thing that stretches my credulity. Granted, I am a hopeless (one might say compulsive) optimist, but it seems to me that SGU’s social dynamic is artificially fractious; I don't buy that this is how relations would fall out in RL—at least not until after the characters had gotten to know each other well and had a chance to get irriated by each others' quirks.

It's much better for morale (the group's and the viewers) if the characters have to pull together against an outside force.

This is what I miss about the old series. (Serieses?)3

I just hope they do something with the Invincibility Field that certain characters are developing.

Yes, this is what I was trying to get at in my @153, but you put it much more succinctly. (Hazards of posting before reading through.)

It's starting to get annoying.

And undercuts credibility.

There's this weird balance that they’re failing to achieve: on the one hand, supporting characters die right and left. On the other hand, main characters are strangely invulnerable. Both (contradictorily) undercut the story's depth and believability. Which loops handily back to abi's point about the price of heroism and great deeds.

It's like the producers are trying to rediscover psychological fiction from first principles, or something. A gedanken experiement wherein they left out some crucial predicates.

----
3 Which reminds me, I forgot to highlight abi @105's gem: since love is the elementary particle of fandom, that's destructive of the relationship with the viewers/readers.

The frission of Zombie Boromir distracted me.

(I hope I have someday the honor of engaging your kids in conversation, abi. They sound like delightfully deep and spicy thinkers.)

#164 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 02:10 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @155: Yes, exactly. What you said.

#165 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 02:18 PM:

nerdycellist @158: MI5 ... The Brits also do much better at normal-attractive people having lead roles in TV, as well as women who are a UK size 10 or so who don't exist as a "Ha Ha! Fatty!" plot point.

Okay, so we are now in the perfect place with the perfect cast to discuss:

Why?

For a start, I'll bet that it's at least partly that Britain is a much older culture than the US. (Do we include Canada on the US side? Or the British side? Somewhere in the middle? Or on a third side?)

#166 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 02:18 PM:

Jeremy@130: I assume that the reason Buffy does poorly in syndication is that after the first season, watching an episode with no context is baffling.

I support this belief. I had a friend come over once who wasn't a Buffy fan and try to watch, what I remember as "Once More With Feeling" with us. It was a new episode of Buffy, anyway, freshly recorded and pausable.

It didn't work because she was against the genre, or predisposed to dislike the characters, or anything like that.

It didn't work because I gave up trying to explain why, say, Xander and Anya were worried about getting married. Or why Dawn was a target. Or who Spike was and what he was thinking. I think there was roughly an hour of explanation in the first half hour of show.

For comparison, it is true that I can go to the gym and watch any given episode of (stealing from Laura Resnick) "Crime and Punishment" and it works just fine as a standalone. I don't know who these people really are, I just watch 'em solve crimes and prosecute people.

#167 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 02:27 PM:

For some reason, NetFlix has 1977's "Island of Doctor Moreau" available only thru streaming. Why isn't it available on DVD? Doesn't everybody want to see Burt Lancaster try to tempt Michael York into eating a rat?

#168 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 02:31 PM:

Bruce Arthurs @161: When I took a look at my queue, about 80% of the stuff I want to watch isn't available via streaming yet. Do I just have a taste for unorthodox and obscure stuff?

No. Well, yes, but I doubt that counts for your instant/DVD ratio; mine's the same.

My read is that the entertainment industry is only just now (and only very reluctantly) clueing into the 21st Century. The stuff that they're willing to stream is mostly the old, low-budget, and informational stuff.

The new stuff that costs actual money to produce and demands ROI is much slower to stream, because they want to milk as much DVD/rental/advertising revenue from it as they can, and they're still struggling with finding a way to monetize that that doesn't annoy the living $#1† out of the viewership. (Mute is the only thing that makes Hulu tolerable. Can you say "back to the bad old days of TV commercials?") (I'm wondering how long it's going to take the advertisers to work out that 30 seconds of boring, repetitive, irritation is not only more expensive but less effective than 5 seconds of something pretty, engaging, and ignorable.)

#169 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 02:35 PM:

Serge @ 167 -

Doesn't everybody want to see Burt Lancaster try to tempt Michael York into eating a rat?

Why? Did Burt see Logan's Run too?

#170 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 03:13 PM:

Sandy, #166: "Once More with Feeling" was the first episode of Buffy I ever watched, and it completely hooked me into the show. Yeah, there were background bits I didn't get, but I expected that; I knew the show had been running for several years already. The episode itself had a reasonably self-contained plot that I could follow easily, and the singing was just plain hilarious -- not to mention "realistic" in that if the people in your social circle all started singing at random points, that's just what it would sound like; some would be very good, most would be okay, and a few would be really awful. When the episode was over, I really wanted to get caught up on the back-story. All of which is to say that I think you're right about your friend having been looking for excuses to dislike it.

Re older women on TV: the second season of NUMB3RS featured Kathy Najimy as the new head of Charlie's department. As such, she was portrayed as being well into middle age, and not a skinny fashion model either, although her clothing was both professional and stylish. She was shown acting as a mentor for Amita (Charlie's love interest, a grad student), and developing a romance sub-arc with Charlie's father. Sadly, her character was only a 1-season replacement for a regular who had a movie commitment, but the writers did a good job with what they had.

#171 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 03:54 PM:

Lee #170:

How about Catherine Janeway in Voyager? She was an early-middle-aged woman who was competent and tough. She was better looking than the average human (because it's hard not to be, if you're an actor), but I can't think of many episodes where her appearance made any difference. (Contrast with Seven-of-Nine.)

Annoyingly, DS9 didn't really have any top-tier middle-aged female characters, unless you count Dax (whose host was young, but whose symbiont was old). Kai Winn was a secondary character, and wasn't exactly a positive character, but was neither invisible nor powerless. Given what she'd accomplished, Kyra, as well as Janeway, should probably have been played by women about ten years older.

I never could buy Kyra as being as tough as her character was supposed to be--neither the actress nor the script really were consistent with that. By contrast, most of the ass-kicking male characters (Sisko, Worf, Garrak, even O'Brien), as well as Dax and Odo[1], kind-of worked. Kyra and Julian kind-of didn't, but Julian wasn't generally coming off as some kind of badass, just a youngish smart Starfleet doctor.

[1] Though I don't recall any episodes making a big deal of it, gender was irrelevant to Odo in pretty much every way possible.

#172 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 04:04 PM:

Michelle Forbes (Ensign Ro on ST:TNG) was originally going to be the Bajoran on DS9, but didn't want to commit to the series.

I thought she was really great as the Maenad on True Blood.

#173 ::: TZHX ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 04:14 PM:

Steve C - I much preferred the character of Kira in DS9 to that of Ro in TNG. Though of course, there was a lot more development time put into the former.

Odo was brilliant. And I seem to be hearing the actor who played him (can't spell his name right, so won't insult him by trying) everywhere recently for which I'm geekily happy.

Re: Buffy, I don't think the shows been gone long enough to warrant a remake. Though I wasn't really a fan back in the day. I personally don't see the point in remaking character-driven shows, unless it's going to be fundamentally different - and then, why bother assosciating it with the "old" version?

#174 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 04:18 PM:

I don't think René Auberjonois comes up often enough to warrant adding him to the spelling reference....

#175 ::: TZHX ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 04:25 PM:

David: that is a shame.

#176 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 05:12 PM:

nerdycellist @#158: I was just thinking of Connie on MI-5! She's awesome.

And season 8 is available on Itunes now...although it has somewhat more stupid than previous seasons (my not-particularly-spoilery rants about spooks stupidity are over here), it's still very good.

#177 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 05:32 PM:

Lee@170

I'm very surprised by that - I would expect "once more with feeling" to be one of the single most plot dependent episodes of the whole 7 seasons, as a big part of the background is that it resolves/reveals things the characters have been unaware of since the end of the last season. Indeed, I remember at the time thinking "so that's why the first episodes of this season sucked - everyone was concentrating on *this*"

My worst problem with the episode has always been that to properly share it with anyone I have to make them watch 5 seasons of buffy first...you give me great hope!

#178 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 06:41 PM:

russ @ 177

I watched Once More With Feeling without having watched any other episode. (before or since) It made perfect sense to me. I may have missed the series references and in jokes, but the situational humor (She needs backup!) and how they handled the characters randomly breaking into song* more than made up for it. Plus the plot was fairly believable.

* Of course, I and my friends regularly do that, too. Our singing isn't random either, it's always context appropriate.

As a one-off episode, it's a good hook for people who like the genre.

#179 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 06:43 PM:

Miss Kitty on "Gunsmoke"...
Barbara Stanwick on "The Big Valley"...

#180 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 06:56 PM:

I listen to the radio serial "Gunsmoke," and I am sure that the tv show would be all wrong to me, because none of the voices will match!

#181 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 07:02 PM:

I remember that at LACon IV they had a public showing and singalong of "Once More, with Feeling". I was afraid it was going to be terrible, but the audience as a whole were actually really quite good singers, and I had a great time. You could tell who had the soundtrack album by who sang the closing lines of "The Parking Ticket" that were cut from the actual episode. Also about a minute into "I'll Never Tell" the audience spontaneously self-organized so that the men were singing Xander's lines and the women Anya's.

#182 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 07:11 PM:

Russ, #177: I think Victoria nails it. This is an episode that pays for re-watching after you're more familiar with the back-story, but you don't need the back-story to enjoy it.

The equivalent episode for B5 (IMO) is "The Coming of Shadows". It wraps up several plot arcs, sets up several more, but a newbie needs surprisingly little background info to follow what's happening.

#183 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 08:23 PM:

Jacque:

Bruce E. Durocher II @129: Mrs. Emma Peel?

Oh, yes, of course! Though it kind of emphasizes my point that (a) you have to reach back 30 years to find her and (b) she's another Brit character.

I remember wandering through the stacks at the UW in the early 80's and seeing a critical literary magazine about SF on the shelf. (Foundation? It's been too long...) I picked it up, opened at random, and hit an article that began "Would you like your daughter to grow up to be A: Emma Peel, B: (Maybe) Jirel of Joiry..." and thinking "And why on earth would you need B, C, or D if you could have A?"

#184 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 09:10 PM:

Bruce E. Durocher II @183: And Diana Rigg is still a lady I'd be happy to grow up to be.

#185 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 09:45 PM:

I'm another one who saw "Once More With Feeling" before any other Buffy episode (but after the movie). The Science Fiction Area of the Popular Culture Association has taken to doing a double-feature of OMWF and "Dr. Horrible" every year. Anyway, the first time was confusing but exhilarating, the second and third time worked pretty well even without knowing the back story, and now that I'm watching the original I'm looking at the characters and trying to figure out how on earth they are going to wind up where they do. I guess it would be like reading "Mountains of Mourning" or worse, "Winterfair Gifts," then going back to the earlier Miles books.

#186 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 09:48 PM:

Nancy C Mittens @ 180... the radio serial "Gunsmoke,"

And you listened to Jack Benny live?
:P

#187 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 09:49 PM:

At the risk of being called a heretic, I rather liked Tara King.

#188 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 10:03 PM:

Janet Brennan Croft @185: I guess it would be like reading "Mountains of Mourning" or worse, "Winterfair Gifts," then going back to the earlier Miles books.

My first Miles was "Weatherman," serialized in my grandmother's Analog back-issues (which worked fairly well as a standalone SF piece, actually). My second Miles, years later, was The Vor Game, and made me perk up and go, "Wait, that short brittle guy. He has a SERIES??" and start paying attention for Bujold's name when cruising used bookstores.

The rest were added in semi-random order up to the ones that were written then, and read in publishing order since. I think my third was Falling Free, which is still one of my favorites ... though I discovered, while doing my post-Cryoburn OMG.REREAD.IT.ALL!!!!eleventy!!! deathmarch, that I actually had to skip a lot right around the part where Pynver naq Gbal raq hc ba gur cynarg, naq fubg, naq fb ba -- nf n cnerag abj, naq just having more life experience, I wanted to shout through the page at them SO BADLY that it was excruciating.

Of course, my first Heinlein was To Sail Beyond the Sunset, and that actually hooked me on the future-history series, so I guess I just enjoy being tossed in the deep end.

I read the second of Diana Gabaldon's time travel romance Scottish novels first, too -- and I'm glad I did; the first one (when I went back and read it, after reading 3) is OMG SUCH A ROMANCE NOVEL that I would have flung it at the wall if I didn't already have investment in the characters and trust in the author to actually make non-schmoopy plot happen.

Speaking of competent middle-aged characters, Gabaldon's protagonist is good on that score.

#189 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 10:41 PM:

Elliot Mason @ 188... OMG SUCH A ROMANCE NOVEL

The horror. The horror!
By the way, if you want some title suggestions, I happen to have a wife who writes that stuff.

:-)

#190 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 10:41 PM:

Do characters played by Glen Close qualify as 'ladies of a certain age'?

#191 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2010, 11:37 PM:

Serge: the actress playing Tara King was O.K. but it was her first acting job ever and it showed until (in my opinion) near the end of the season, where she finally started to loosen up in the role.

#192 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 12:49 AM:

Bruce Arthurs @ 161: When I took a look at my queue, about 80% of the stuff I want to watch isn't available via streaming yet. Do I just have a taste for unorthodox and obscure stuff?

Jacque @ 168: My read is that the entertainment industry is only just now (and only very reluctantly) clueing into the 21st Century. The stuff that they're willing to stream is mostly the old, low-budget, and informational stuff.

Buying an HDTV/Blu-Ray combo a couple of months ago has reawakened my latent cinephilia, and I've been spending a lot of time filling my Netflix queues (maximum 500? seriously?). Aside from the last few months' films not streaming (understandable), I don't really see a pattern in what streams and what doesn't. On the cartoon blockbuster side, we have Up but not Kung-Fu Panda; from the Eastern European New Wave we have The Red and the White but not Daisies. My guess is that it's not as simple as throwing a switch, because of rights issues, and different DVD houses have different levels of staff and commitment to deal with it (and, no doubt, different monetization strategies).

That said, my general Netflix hit rate is much higher that it used to be, and I'm seeing a lot more streaming titles than even six months ago. There's something very cool about reading about, say, Berlin, Symphony of a Great City, and finding out that you can watch it right now. (And I recommend that you do; it's the Koyaanisqatsi of 1927.)

Of course, there are some surprising omissions: Blonde Venus, Trouble In Mind, Seventeen, L'Atalante, Tampopo. Some of these, at least, are not in print on DVD in the U.S., so there's not much Netflix can do.

#193 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 01:27 AM:

Elliott Mason @188: post-Cryoburn OMG.REREAD.IT.ALL!!!!eleventy!!! deathmarch,

You made me scare the guinea pigs.

::sulk:: Can't reread. Already perilously close to memorizing them. ::pout::

so I guess I just enjoy being tossed in the deep end

::ears perk up:: Yes! Me too! Never had that articulated for me before. Thank you!

Serge @190: Do characters played by Glen Close qualify as 'ladies of a certain age'?

I think they do now. :-)

Tim Walters @192: streaming ... My guess is that it's not as simple as throwing a switch

I believe it does depend somewhat on production company/distributor. (And this applies to Hulu, as well. Why why WHY is neither Big Bang Theory nor NUMB3RS on Hulu??!? I mean like, HELLOOOO!!! TARGET AUDIENCE HERE!!!)

Contrariwise, a little independent film made locally here, called Ink streams. (Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little put me onto that one. THANK YOU, NIKI!) Pawing through Netflix's back alleys for contact info one night, I ran across a link for film producers to contact Netflix directly.

So I think it is dictated by the terms of the content provider, at least in part.

Contrariwise, I wonder what Netflix's cost/revenue breakouts are. Speaking from the perspective of customer service call-center numbers I've seen, mail is something like $3/contact, whereas web is, like, $.30.*

I'll wager it's similar for Netflix, but I'll bet the limiting factors are server space and network bandwidth.

---
* based on vague memory.

#194 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 01:35 AM:

Hmph. All this talk of Netflix. Hmph. Even Hulu doesn't leave the US.

Hmph.

(Wanders off, muttering about bread and circuses, but it's all sour grapes, you know.)

#195 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 02:32 AM:

albatrossm #171: Voyager lost me fairly early on; at that point I was solidly hooked on DS9, and the Reset Button became correspondingly more annoying by contrast. I do, however, remember the incredible fuss and foofaraw over them casting a woman in the Captain's role at all, never mind what she looked like, and how many of my friends (male and female both) were saying, "Well, about damn TIME!"

Elliott: I keep getting the giggles because the way you express your disgust with romance plots is so reminiscent of the little kid in The Princess Bride going "Ew, kissing!" Just something about the phrasing...

#196 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 02:39 AM:

Jacque @ 193: So I think it is dictated by the terms of the content provider, at least in part.

That much is definitely true; Netflix can't stream a film without being explicitly licensed to do so, whereas they can buy and rent DVDs with no permission at all. My thought was more that sometimes the DVD producer may not have the right to grant that license (especially in the case of older contracts), and needs to renegotiate with the owners of the film.

#197 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 03:50 AM:

abi @194:

Poor {{{abi}}}

You have my deepest sympathies. I'm constantly hitting walls on British stuff I want to watch, and it PISSES ME OFF. Ahem.

I want to grab them by the lapels, give them a good slapping, and yell "HELLO!!! PAYING CUSTOMER!!!"

I give it five years before this problem goes away, though, crushed by the internal weight of its wanton stupidity, and innevitable market forces.

Doesn't do you any good in the meantime, though, so have a batch of virtual truffles on me.

#198 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 05:06 AM:

Jaque @ #165:
Maybe CXanada should be on the hat side? As an aside, flicking through those comics have had me in stitches from laughing.

abi @ #194:
At least the UK get LoveFilm (but, from a quick look, the closest they get to NL is DE and that may be close, but no stroopwafel), but just TRY to find some classic Swedish kids' shows on the UK version...

#199 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 05:56 AM:

I loved the characters played by Ethel Barrymore.

#200 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 08:53 AM:

Katherine Janeway -- hm. On the one hand, yes, female captain, not a twenty-year-old, not playing up looks and body, all good. But I'm sorry, she annoyed the heck out of me. She made bad decisions all the time and never admitted it and rarely paid for it. (Of course, that's the writers' fault, but it seemed like they were all "look, we made a lady captain!!" and not holding her to the standards they would Sisko or Picard.) Anyway, my first words at the end of the final episode were "At last, our long national nightmare is over."

#201 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 09:24 AM:

Not that I think she's in the same league as Diana Rigg, acting-chops-wise, but Honor Blackman actually had some judo training. She wrote a self-defense book. No, really. (I had a copy but altruistically gave it to my nephew as a gift.)

#202 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 09:55 AM:

Serge @189, when I said a book was "OMG SUCH A ROMANCE NOVEL", said: The horror. The horror!

I'm deeply allergic to a lot of the way they build plots over in the shelves marked 'Romance.' I don't mind books where people fall in love; I deeply detest when their falling in love is clearly the only purpose of the book at all, which is true of way too many on those shelves, and, IMHO, apparently true of the first few chapters of Diana Gabaldon's first Outlander book: she gets over it, but I would have already flung it at the wall and given up if I hadn't read book 2 already.

That was one of my major problems with Bujold's Sharing Knife: they're written like romance novels, not like epic fantasy. I stuck with them for the cool worldbuilding and magic system, but it was a slog because of all the Sueish They Are Destined To LURVE!! cooties all over it. Shame, because I like the magic system and the worldbuilding ... but I can't bring myself to reread the books.

Jacque @193 and I both enjoy being 'tossed in the deep end' of books and series..

I feel like I should quantify or quibble, because there are books built to toss you in the deep end that I don't like ... I WANT to say I like it when it's done competently, by authors who trust their readers to put the puzzle together, but that just begs the question. :->

I did feel American Gods went a little too far in that direction, slyly hinting sideways at SO many things that the author clearly knew and I didn't (and maybe he expected All Reasonable People to know, hitting me in the inadequacy/patronization complexes), that I had to skim sections of it the way I skim the pitched spaceship fleet battles in Honor Harrington.

Then Jacque @193 said: And this applies to Hulu, as well. Why why WHY is neither Big Bang Theory nor NUMB3RS on Hulu?

Or Criminal Minds. Because CBS isn't part of the multi-network treaty: Hulu is either owned-by or highly-influenced-by NBC, so there you are.

Also, CBS thinks if they give you more than 4-minute clips, they'll never make any money off you at all ever ever. So instead of me seeing their ads, I watch it illicitly via streaming from a site that gives CBS no money at all ... smart move there, guys.

abi @194 said: Hmph. All this talk of Netflix. Hmph. Even Hulu doesn't leave the US.

To be fair, I've often wished I could pay the BBC for an online-only 'TV license' so I could watch iPlayer and see things like Top Gear and Doctor Who less than a year and a half behind ... I mean, they ALREADY have a subscription model, sort of; why do they prevent me from subscribing because of where my IP address is?

#203 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 10:15 AM:

Lila: the reason that Honor Blackman had a leather dress in one episode and that Diana Rigg had the leather catsuit was that in one of the Blackman episodes she threw a stuntman and split the back out of her pants. This lead to a member of the Conservative Party to proclaim it was a show for "Leather Perverts."

#204 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 11:07 AM:

Bruce E Durocher II @ 203... "Leather Perverts" sounds like a spoof that should star Rowan Atkinson and Joanna Lumley.

#205 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 11:34 AM:

I've been hearing grumblings that the BBC pay model is going away - too many Brits would prefer to pay for satellite and don't want to pay the license fee besides. I'd bet if they let foreigners pay for a license they'd be full of cash. I'd ditch cable if I could get the various beebs. I know there's as much crap in their programming as the US, but the "good" stuff is uniformly more interesting to me than the US good stuff.

#206 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 12:41 PM:

There's hardly anything I want to watch that netflix streams. Yet they're severely reducing their dvd replacement and availability for many things. They are pushing us to do streaming, particularly on our televisions. I do not have or want a television. I want to watch on my computer screen.

And there's so much bbc that they don't have, and it IS on dvd, you can see, from the BBC dvd store.

Love, C.

#207 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 01:16 PM:

Constance @ 206: And there's so much bbc that they don't have, and it IS on dvd, you can see, from the BBC dvd store.

British DVDs won't play in the vast majority of U.S. players due to region coding. You can buy an all-region player, and/or set your computer's drive to spoof the region, but you can hardly blame Netflix for not wanting to ship grey-market discs that most people won't know what to do with.

#208 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 01:26 PM:

Tim Walters @207: No reason they couldn't provide BBC content streaming, though -- the conversion is simple once it's a digital file.

And Netflix regularly gets US-region BBC content THREE MONTHS or more after a friend of mine (who obsessively buys season sets) gets them off Amazon.com, so it's not just a PAL/NTSC problem.

#209 ::: Emily Horner ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 02:06 PM:

I'm another one who watched Once More With Feeling as the first Buffy episode I ever saw. The nice thing about that episode is that it does have a lot of shiny even if you don't understand these people and what's happening to them; the songs are great, the choreography is interesting, and a lot of the conflicts (I have cold feet about getting married!) can be summed up very quickly and simply even if there's a lot there under the surface.

Later, when it was in syndication on FX, I started watching towards the end of season 7. The only reason I kept watching was that enough people had assured me of the show's brilliance that I made up my mind to be patient until I absorbed some of what was happening. I agree that series with long arcs aren't necessarily the best candidates for syndication.

#210 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 02:10 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 208: No reason they couldn't provide BBC content streaming, though

Sure there is--the BBC hasn't sold them the rights. Do we have any reason to think that the Beeb has been offering them, but Netflix has refused them? I'd be pretty surprised.

And Netflix regularly gets US-region BBC content THREE MONTHS or more after a friend of mine (who obsessively buys season sets) gets them off Amazon.com, so it's not just a PAL/NTSC problem.

I doubt that buying every DVD on the day it's released is Netflix's best strategy, especially considering that from their point of view the DVD will be obsolete in a few years. If I were them, I'd triage my purchases based on membership demand. Also note that Netflix sometimes voluntarily delays DVD availability as part of deal with the studio to allow streaming and/or get better disc pricing.

(PAL/NTSC doesn't actually matter, by the way; the region block is independent of that.)

#211 ::: DonBoy ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 04:40 PM:

SyFy exec Craig Engler had a series of guest posts on Boing Boing some months back about how his industry works, especially in relation to Internet and other "new" tech; the one most relevant to this discussion is here.

I insist on quoting this from a later piece, though:

As it happens, we know about these [various potential TV-biz-changing] issues, and the new ones that come up every day. They aren't being ignored or killing anything. On the off chance we overlook one, it's a good bet that Internet commenters on sites like BoingBoing will alert us to that fact. They often use key words like "FAIL!!!!" and "dinosaur" to flag us, making their notes especially easy to find.

WRT The Prisoner: for an interesting semi-derivative you might check out "Tower Prep", a live-action series now running on Cartoon Network (it's not their first live-action series). It's created by Paul Dini of the DC Animated Universe and has some worthwhile stuff in it, and seems to be making narrative progress. It's Tuesdays at 9, although my Tivo is sometimes not informed of that fact until a couple of days before the broadcast for some reason.

#212 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 04:47 PM:

I don't actually feel that deprived by the lack of Netflix, particularly since I am even more lacking in time to take advantage of it. It just bemuses me how something so ubiquitous for the commentariat is entirely absent from my existence.

Another country is like the past. We do things differently there.

#213 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 07:05 PM:

abi 212: Another country is like the past. We do things differently there.

You're like, the coolest person ever. Just sayin'.

#214 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 08:06 PM:

Jacque @193: Yer welcome. The more eyeballs on that lovely piece of film, the better.

On Netflix: I may be repeating something here, having perhaps read carelessly in my rush to catch up, but - Their instant streaming availability has a distressing tendency to change on a dime. John fell in love with Leverage via Netflix streaming. Then, in the midst of watching Season 3 during its original airing, we got a hankering to rewatch Season 2. No dice - it had gone to disk only. This makes me think that a streaming-only subscription might be dicey.

Also, to sideways reference something someone upthread suggested about viable remakes - Beauty and the Beast is disk only. This makes a disk subscription absolutely necessary.

(My response to the suggestion of remaking that: 1. Meep! 2. But could you convince Ron Perlman to submit to that make-up ritual again? Oh, wait, Hellboy. 3. You mean with different actors? Die, heretic!)


On Hulu: I seem to recall that AdBlock Plus made the pain go away. At one point I found myself wondering, "Didn't they used to have commercials? Good job they got rid of those!" (I may be remembering SyFy.com instead, however. It was something to do with watching Eureka and Warehouse 13.

#215 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 08:41 PM:

Ingvar M @198: Maybe CXanada should be on the hat side?

Be careful! Canadians I know are already touchy enough about sharing a bed with the American elephant and not getting squashed when it rolls over in its sleep.

Elliott Mason @202: That was one of my major problems with Bujold's Sharing Knife: they're written like romance novels ... They Are Destined To LURVE!! cooties

You make me laugh. We are clearly Jack Sprat and his wife, because the LURVE was what I enjoyed most. There are definitely cases where the romantic angle annoys me and totally gets in the way. "Ewww! All right! We get it! Now will you get on with the damn story?"

Strangely, I'm running across more romance I enjoy of late. Maybe it's an age thing.1

being 'tossed in the deep end' ... I WANT to say I like it when it's done competently, by authors who trust their readers to put the puzzle together, but that just begs the question. :->

How about: the difference is that the information is there, it's just not stated explicitly at that time, versus when it's being deliberately Withheld For Effect?3

I mean, [BBC] ALREADY ha[s] a subscription model, sort of; why do they prevent me from subscribing because of where my IP address is?

Only rationale I can come up with is that the advertisers don't value American viewers as potential market. Or something equally narrow-minded. But even that doesn't make any sense when it comes to things like buying a book or a DVD.

Tim Walters @207 British DVDs won't play in the vast majority of U.S. players due to region coding. You can buy an all-region player, and/or set your computer's drive to spoof the region,

I'm retroactively appalled that it took me six months to work out that my old mac could set to Region 2. I'm now feeling unreasonably smug: I can play Brit DVDs, neener neener.

Elliott Mason @208: No reason they couldn't provide BBC content streaming, though
Tim Walters @210: Sure there is—the BBC hasn't sold them the rights.

Just plain dumb. IMHO.

If I were [Netflix], I'd triage my purchases based on membership demand.

Which they are almost certainly doing.4 Like I said upthread, some of the hold-up is very likely a matter of simple capacity. As lovely and obvious as trans-continental railroad (Inter-continental railroad? Hee.) might be, ya still gotta lay the rails before you can set your routes and schedules.

And I'll wager this starts wading into political boundaries and IP negotiations, and that's likely a big hangup, as well. Look at the mess that resulted when Hollywood just casually assumed that they could put stuff online without bothering to pay the writers a cut of the profits.

DonBoy @211: Internet commenters on sites like BoingBoing will alert us to that fact. ... Key words ... mak[e] their notes especially easy to find.

Well, okay then. Everyone, say it with me: Netflix! BBC!! Dinosaur FAIL: I want my Earth.tv!!5

There's a great whistling chasm in the market right now, just crying for some bright soul to fill it with something Netflix-streaming-like. That it hasn't yet been filled yet is, I suspect, mostly logistical. I give it at most five years. I'd bet good money it's in the works now. If I knew where to look, I'd be buying stock.6

---
1 I find I'm having a similar experience with comedy: I'm a lot more tolerant of explicit comedy than I used to be, and find myself laughing out loud at stuff that would have sent me up the flue even five years ago.2

Best explanation I can come up with is that I feel much safer in my world now than I used to. In the olden days, I hated most comedy because I identified with the victim being seen as a target of mockery and ridicule. Now I feel fond recognition and affection for the subject's foibles and the resulting entanglements. "I resemble that remark!"

2 The canonical example being the Civil Campaign dinner. My ego has gotten me into similar fixes. While they're certainly uncomfortable at the time, they're not fatal, and rarely even very important in the long run.

Does that make sense?

3 And here is where we run into my main objection to Steven Spielberg's story-telling style. He tends to, for my taste, be rather heavy handed. Rather than letting the story and the situation convey the desired emotion, he tends to bludgeon it to Make His Point to the audience. Two examples: when Miss Sophie's dress is blown up after she's been attacked and is on the ground in Color Purple, and the red spot-color in Schindler's List. It's like he doesn't trust the material to contain the information, or the audience to make the connection, and that's just insulting. IMHO.

4 I imagine they keep a close eye on their search stats. I wish I had a way to explicitly ask for something, though, even if it was just a hollow shell. Or at the very least, maybe a feedback that, when you search on a title they don't carry, comes back with a ranking. "300 searches for this term this month; 500 needed to justify license," or something. Hell, Netflix is all about stats; I can't believe this is something their IT.elves couldn't witch up over a long weekend.

5 Hm. Checking: this domain comes up on sedoparking.com. I presume this means somebody's already bought it? How does one (a) find out who and (b) go about buying it from them? ::rubs knuckles and cackles evilly::

6 Say! Now that fandom has successfully infiltrated the White House, maybe we should set our sights on taking over the entertainment industry? Hm. Anybody here have a hankering to be the mogul-designate?

#216 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 08:42 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @ 214: Beauty and the Beast is disk only.

But La Belle et La Bête streams.

#217 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 09:00 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @214: On Hulu: I seem to recall that AdBlock Plus made the pain go away.

I could be tempted, but I'm mindful of the warning elsethread: from March 2010 Sidelights: Why Ad Blocking is devastating to the sites you love

I'm very conscious that my submission to advertising is my side of my contract with Hulu.* I just wish there was a better way to negotiate the difference between the advertisers who are actually willing to buy time versus the things I'd actually be willing to spend attention/money on. Sadly, these two mostly seem to be non-intersecting sets.

* And why I am willing to pay money to Netflix and, occassionally, iTunes.

(And here we have another reason I am frustrated at not being able to keep up with my science reading. I remember seeing discussions about the ad-funded versus subscrtiption models of distribution on the net all the way back in the mid-90s. I wonder what new dilemmas are coming down the pike that I should be paying attention to now.)

#218 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 09:02 PM:

Tim Walters @216: But La Belle et La Bête streams.

Ooo! Thank you for that! I remember seeing that eons ago. Added to my queue.

#219 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 09:05 PM:

Oh yeah, speaking of Ron Perlman, Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little, have you seen The City of Lost Children?

#220 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 09:25 PM:

Jacque @ 215: There's a great whistling chasm in the market right now, just crying for some bright soul to fill it with something Netflix-streaming-like. That it hasn't yet been filled yet is, I suspect, mostly logistical. I give it at most five years. I'd bet good money it's in the works now. If I knew where to look, I'd be buying stock.

Netflix streaming is insanely popular, supposedly sucking up 20% of prime-time U.S. bandwidth. It's unlikely that any similar service is going to be offering content owners a better deal anytime soon. But as the article DonBoy linked to makes clear, there are plenty of non-dumb reasons why content owners aren't jumping in with both feet.

#221 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 10:20 PM:

I will say I think "Once More With Feeling" is the exception to the rule - it's so obviously playing with musical theater tropes that it's pretty easy to follow as a standalone. "Hush" is also a good one, just in that it's neat. But out of the latter six seasons, there aren't too many other eps that work that way.

(And OMWF totally fails for people who don't like musical theater, more's the pity.)

#222 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2010, 10:52 PM:

I saw the original movie. Some time later, I became aware that there was a TV series remaking it (insert mild puzzlement about how they're going to stretch out the movie into a full season, and replace the star), and caught an episode. Apparently there are episodes that some of you have seen that really capture a gestalt of the series and give you a good place to start watching from the middle; the one I saw was not one of those. I don't remember if it was a monster of the week or not, but if so, it still required too much back story to make sense.

#223 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 12:47 AM:

Yes, Cocteau's "La Belle et la Bête" is a must.

#224 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 09:08 AM:

Waaaay upthread, abi posted a quote by the new writer:

The deep struggle she had with duty and destiny, that tug between what you’re supposed to be doing and what you want to be doing. The fate of the world is on her shoulders, but some days she wakes up, and she just doesn’t want to do it.

This is my least favorite thing, especially when it comes to Buffy. It's the reason I couldn't watch Heroes, or No Ordinary Family. Is this really what everyone would do if they woke up and discovered they had superpowers? Mope? Bemoan? I can understand it as a subplot (I watched and enjoyed the vast majority of Buffy despite it), but as the main focus of the narrative? That's why I came to hate Wheel of Time, while loving A Game of Thrones.

Supernatural was a bit better about this, making it pretty clear that the main character had PTSD, and that he was an alcoholic. This seemed a realistic result of being a combat situation almost 24-7 since he was a small child. His burden is heavy enough that I believe him when he wants a normal life, and understand why he can't have one. There is practically no chance he'll make it past 40 alive, and if he does, there's little chance he'll ever have the family he wants so badly. He is screwed enough that all his angst makes sense, and his glimmers of hope are faint and frequent enough to twist the knife. And yes, after season 1.5 or so Supernatural develops a heady undertone of angst porn. Still, the angst trap was so beautifully constructed that it was still fun to watch.

But Buffy had friends, and relationships, and family. She had hope. So she felt, to me, whinier than she was entitled to be. That's why I always found Willow and Xander much more sympathetic than Buffy. They were more enthusiastic about where they were going despite not having the guidance that knowing you're the chosen one grants (for Willow) and not really being able to do much to push back the darkness (for Xander). All the characters had times when their involvement in this whole crazy "save the world" scheme prevented them from getting what they wanted, but it wasn't the focus the majority of the time, even for Buffy herself.

This may be why Batman is my favorite superhero, with the She-Hulk a close second. Batman doesn't really even want a normal life. He feels lonely, but he's much rather romance a jewel thief and help found a Justice League than go back to being "just Bruce Wayne." Shulkie gets to the point where she prefers the confidence and power being the She Hulk grants her, and decides to stay that way. I like it when heroes accept their exceptional circumstances as either a gift or just another aspect of themselves, rather than a burden.

The X-men were also good at balancing this whole thing. With the anti-mutant bullying (and eventually legislation) they had a similar amount of angst as gay teens in an intolerant community: that is to say, quite a lot, and understandably so. When they got to a community where most of the other people were in the same boat they mostly calmed down, though the reaction could be triggered again when faced with persecution from the outside world. Good balanced angst there.

Of course, Supernatural couldn't exist without Buffy (could Buffy exist without the X-men? I'm not sure). Sometimes I get the feeling that the writers on Supernatural were calling out the rest of the occult drama universe: "You think you've seen a hero's burden? Oh, we'll show you a hero's burden." I worry that the new Buffy will try to pull the same thing, with less interesting results.

#225 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 09:54 AM:

Leah Miller @224 -- hero's burden. Yes, that's exactly one of the things I love about the Miles books. There's that marvelous quote from Duv Galeni about the best of the Vor being willing to run down the street to take up more responsibility, which you certainly see with Miles (and perhaps even Ivan, though he will certainly put up a pretty convincing fuss about it). But you also see the other side with Gregor's brief rebellion, running away and making a mess of things. I thing that's something that bothered me about _Lost_, in retrospect -- Jack kept trying to be the leader but kept rejecting it at the same time. Like he thought leadership was his right _and_ it should be easy at the same time. Even Locke, who wanted leadership more, kept allowing his desire to have a mystical personal relationship with the island to get in the way of truly being responsible for his fellow survivors.

#226 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 10:00 AM:

Speaking of superheroes and reboots and remakes... I can give one good case for something to be remade even though the original happened not long ago. What? Nobody saw the dreadful "Fantastic Four" movies?

#227 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 10:02 AM:

Leah Miller @ 224... I think my favorite comic-book character of the SFnal kind probably is Hank McCoy.

#228 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 10:34 AM:

I'm unusual -- I only started watching Buffy at the start of season 6 [*], and yet thoroughly enjoyed it and didn't get too lost. This surprised some of my friends at the time, as they thought there was far too much backstory by then to be able to start cold. But I'd already picked up enough backstory by osmosis, simply because there was so much chatter about it in my corner of fanspace. And, of course, if there was something that made me go "Huh?", there was a computer with net connection in the same room, so I could go and look it up during the ad break.

Of course, this also means that I have a rather different view of the show to that held by friends who saw it from the start. I am in two minds about whether to pick up the full box set next time it's on the Evil Empire at a stupid price, because I have seen the way many Blake's 7 fans who only came in at season 3 react to the first two seasons of B7, and it's not pretty.

[* I didn't watch a lot of US import sf during the 90s, because the BBC had decided that 6 pm was US import sf slot, which was not entirely compatible with my getting home from work in time if I had to do shopping on the way. Yes, I owned a VCR. It watched a lot of stuff on my behalf that I never managed to get to before the next week's episode.]

#229 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 11:57 AM:

I want to clarify a few things about the hero's burden thing.

When someone is agonizing over doing something that is their "duty" while sacrificing what they want to do, it's important to my enjoyment of the thing and my respect for the character that they do the following:

1. Ask: If I'm so miserable, why do I keep doing it?
2. Come up with a decent reason as to why.
3. Use that conclusion to own the decision to continue the sacrifice.

Alternately, at step 2 they can decide NOT to keep doing something that makes them miserable, and bugger off in some other interesting and productive way.

Because I have it on the brain at the moment, Supernatural is the easiest example of this. Dean is asked all the time, either explicitly or implicitly, why he still does what he does if it's destroying him. He has a bunch of good reasons: he's more qualified than most, he's too conditioned to it to leave the life behind entirely, but mostly... because if he stopped people would die. So he's resigned to it in sort of a jovial "might as well live fast, die young, and leave a perplexing corpse" way.

Having someone be "the chosen one" in an immutable, destined way plays havoc with this. It makes the answer to number two moot, and makes step three a lot more difficult. This is distinct from being the heir to something or the last of something - in most of those cases, one could choose to do something else, it would just destroy everything they personally hold dear. The world probably wouldn't end, though.

One of my favorite fictional mechanisms of recent years revolved around someone who, upon learning that he had a grand destiny inscribed in heaven, said "screw that" and declared himself a part of "team free will." He wasn't shirking his responsibilities, but he was dedicated to doing them his own way, rather than abiding by the dictate of destiny.

On Lost, at least they asked the questions. They were believably inconstant and troubled. But out of everyone in Lost, Ben... who wanted so badly to have a destiny, any destiny, was my favorite.

#230 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 12:00 PM:

Leah, 229: The "team free will" guy sounds like fun. What's he in?

#231 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 12:06 PM:

Jacque @219 - Yes. The first time with subtitles, in theaters. Loved it.

#232 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 12:16 PM:

& Jacque @ 217 re: Hulu & Ads -

I guess for me I feel (irrationally) a difference between 1) sites I love with ads that can be interesting and are rarely intrusive, on which I disable Adblock, and 2) TV-style ads, which I experience as the painful yet numbing feeling of my brain melting out of my ears and/or me getting fruitlessly pissed off. Or both at once. (gah, football season, when watching the game means reacquainting myself with TV ads, which are in the main wrong wrong wrong sexist wrong wrongity racist wrong wrong consumerphiliac WRONG. Although most Droid ads can stay. They tend to bu fun or pleasantly WTF?--and, oddly, most NFL ads tickle me.) So, selfishly, once I realized what had made the pain go away, I left it in place.

I like to think (rationalizing again) that I make up for it somewhat by buying the DVDs when they come out, or using the family Netflix account when that's an option.

#233 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 12:41 PM:

Nicole... Poor Ron Perlman really struggled speaking French, which might explain why his character was a man of few words.

#234 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 04:29 PM:

Leah Miller @224: His burden is heavy enough that I believe him when he wants a normal life, and understand why he can't have one. There is practically no chance he'll make it past 40 alive, and if he does, there's little chance he'll ever have the family he wants so badly.

This is intriguing enough that I may have to go back and give Supernatural more of a try. I've surfed past it a few times in the first few seasons, and it didn't particularly hook me, but that's at least in part because the genre has no pull for me. Buffy was kind of a surprise that way. Hooked me resolutely despite the genre.

This is the one thing I wish they'd pay more attention to in SGU. Rush is pretty consistently a thorough-going bastard, but it's not really clear why. That kind of misanthropy doesn't come out of nowhere. I'm happy to supply my own backstory, but I wish they'd explore this more. Would give more depth to the character.

angst porn

Heh. Thank you for putting a name to that. I haven't done the whole Twilight thing (and don't plan to, kthxbye), and one reason is that, from all the scuttle-butt I've heard, it leans pretty heavily on this particular indulgence.

Janet Brennan Croft @225: Jack ... thought leadership was his right _and_ it should be easy at the same time.

Heh. Sound like any recent presidents we can think of? </snark>

I can't help but hold fiction (especially TV and movies) up against the era in which it's written. I just watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and the story-line is just ringing with hypervigiliant authoritarian nanny-state overtones. It would be implausible hyperbole ... if weren't we living in it.

Julia Jones @228: I have seen the way many Blake's 7 fans who only came in at season 3 react to the first two seasons of B7, and it's not pretty.

Being a devout fan of both, I would endorse catching up on the beginning of Buffy. In the case of B7, season 3 fixes a major problem with the story (i.e., Rog Blake, as previously discussed), whereas early seasons of Buffy aren't all that different from later seasons; they're just less well fleshed-out, which is appropriate to their station in life. At least, this is my recollection. I haven't seen them in a while (trying to let them fade from memory, the better to come back fresh).

Leah Miller @229: Alternately, at step 2 they can decide NOT to keep doing something that makes them miserable, and bugger off in some other interesting and productive way.

Examples, please? I'm afraid my education is failing me here, and this sounds like an interesting tangent.

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @231: subtitles

CoLC is one of the few instances where a case could be made for dubbing. I can't tell you how frustrating I found it to be watching a movie that was insanely interesting visually, while at the same time having to keep track of the subtitles. Almost made me go back and watch it again, but the overall experience was too intense for me to be willing to repeat it right then.

Interesting side note: the movie was brought to my attention by my buddy Chip Overclock at Worldcon some years ago. There was this incredibly elaborate ferris wheel sculpture in the art show (somebody here can doubtless supply the artist's name) and she had a boombox hooked in to the power switch for the display, which played the CoLC overture. Beautiful and very effective.

@232 [TV ad rant] LOL. Well, when you put it so eloquently, I guess you can be forgiven. Heh. I hail from an era when even muting the sound wasn't an option, so maybe I have thicker callouses. (Although we won't go into what a football soundscape does to my nerves. Traumatized at an early age, and all that, but you've already endured that particular rant. ;-> ) I will have to say, though, that that one ad that shows endless footage of a clothesline full of increasingly skimpy lingerie has pushed me close to my limit. Not only do I no longer belong to the target demographic, but I find the imagery nearly as offensive as porn spam. ::straightens up:: ::shakes out shoulders:: But that's neither here nor there.

Serge @233: Poor Ron Perlman really struggled speaking French, which might explain why his character was a man of few words.

Hee. I remember wondering about that when I saw it. No means to evaluate that on my own, however. :-)

#235 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 05:22 PM:

Jacque @234: See, I'm one of the B7 fans who would take seasons 1 and 2 over 3 and 4 every time. I am *glad* 3 and 4 got made, yeah even unto Animal, but I think they're pretty pointless without the foundation of the first two. And I felt that way even before I encountered the concept of slash. (Though you will prise my copy of Blake from my cold dead hands.)

But I saw them in order the first time round. Whereas there is a contingent of fans who saw third and fourth first, and whose attitude to first and second is that they're not interested in watching them again because Blake has usurped the position on the show that rightfully belongs to Tarrant, or to Avon (depending on faction). Which given that Blake is the centrepiece of the show concept (Robin Hood leading the Dirty Dozen in space was how Nation pitched it), Avon was specifically created as something to contrast Blake to, and Tarrant was hastily created as a replacement for Blake when the actor wanted out of the show, suggests to me that they're seeing the show in an entirely different way to me as a direct result of having seen it in a different order.

I've seen enough discussion online about how different Buffy was after the end of the fifth season to think that I am not going to see early episodes in the same way that I would have had I watched in order, although I'd hope it wouldn't be the sort of extreme reaction I've seen in B7 fandom.

#236 ::: Mike McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 06:09 PM:

Jacque @197, Constance @206, Elliott @208 (and possibly other interested parties): think I mentioned this in OT149 - Expat Shield allows you to stream BBC iPlayer from outside the UK.

#237 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 06:19 PM:

Jacque @ 215:
Steven Spielberg's story-telling style. He tends to, for my taste, be rather heavy handed.

I consider that an understatement. While I really, really admire "Duel" (I saw it when it was first put on TV), it's one of the few Spielberg movies that works completely, in part just because it's so intense and heavy-handed. But almost every other one of his movies I've seen (including "E.T.", "Schindler's List", "Saving Private Ryan", and all 10 hours of "Taken"1) has seemed to me like an exercise in pushing the audience's buttons rather than showing them a story to relate to.

1. Not even saved by Matt Frewer's consumption of the scenery and most of the supporting cast.


Tim Walters @ 216:

*SIGH* One of the most visually beautiful movies ever made. Damn, that man had an eye!2

2. Pun intended. Ever seen "Le Sang d'un Poete"?


Leah Miller @ 224:

Well, I agree with you that Supernatural serves up its angst well. It helped, I think, that Sam and Dean both had real problems with the lives they'd inherited from their father, but that their problems were different, and their solutions were incompatible, resulting in constant conflict between them. The writers were wise, I think, to return to that formula in the current season; they needed to lower the volume a little after Armageddon3.

Buffy is different, and for several very good reasons. First of all, she starts out the series 16 years old and an ex-Valley girl; of course she's whiney.

Second, as I said upstream, the series is all about coming of age and accepting responsibility, so it's no surprise that it takes Buffy most of the first six seasons to do just that. Along the way she starts to accept things several times for the wrong reasons (killing vamps is cool, being a Slayer gets you laid or makes friends, Slayers are part of an arcane organization so Buffy can lay the responsibility on the people who run it), and each time finds out that she's wrong, and then has to go looking for her raison d'être again.

3. Though I could make a case for the entire series being about sibling rivalry: Sam & Dean, Lucifer & Michael, Castiel & Rafael. And we might yet discover that Crowley & the yellow-eyed demon were brothers.


Serge @ 226:

I think we owe it to the memory of the Silver Surfer to replace that steaming pile of badly-executed tropes that was the second Fantastic Four movie.

#238 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 06:43 PM:

Julia Jones @228: Yes, I owned a VCR. It watched a lot of stuff on my behalf that I never managed to get to before the next week's episode.

Douglas Adams described a VCR as a machine created by humans to watch tedious television shows so they didn't have to.

#239 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 06:58 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 237... Yeah... I went WTF when I realized that Galactus wasn't going to show up other than as Cloud Nine. Frankly, both movies left me with a bad taste. They screwed up everything, not just the Devourer of Worlds, but Doom was especially painful.

#240 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 06:59 PM:

Regarding "Blake's 7"... How many episodes did Tanith Lee write?

#241 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 07:03 PM:

Jacque @ 234... As far as I know, Perlman doesn't speak French, so basically he was saying his lines phonetically, without really knowing what the individual words meant. That must have been frustrating for him to give a performance out of that.

#242 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 07:18 PM:

nerdycellist #158 and Jacque #163:
"supporting characters die right and left. On the other hand, main characters are strangely invulnerable"

Thread convergence. One big reason I love Spooks/MI-5 is because characters are expendable. This was made apparent from the outset; the opening credits don't ever name the actors. It really heightens the sense of impending doom when characters get caught in tight situations when sometimes, they don't make it out alive.

Tim Walters #207:
The DVD players sold in New Zealand generally default as non-region-coded, because if we could watch Region 4 DVDs only, we'd find other things to do or hack them ourselves.

#243 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 08:08 PM:

Serge, #241: Two episodes--one each in seasons three and four. If I remember correctly (and it frightens me how often I'm able to remember these things correctly--I swear I'm not deliberately memorizing useless trivia) the titles were "Sarcophagus" and "Sand."

#244 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 08:16 PM:

Data point of possible interest: I went Amoeba (SF's gigantic CD/DVD store that fills a former bowling alley), 114-item not-on-Netflix wish list in hand, and found exactly two items thereon, both pricey. I sprung for L'Atalante but not The List of Adrian Messenger. To be fair, the store is better organized for browsing than for searching, and I might have missed a few.

Since I didn't have cellphone service in the store I picked up ten cheap titles I thought Netflix might not have, and that I wouldn't mind owning anyway, ranging from Xenakis: Electronic Music 1 to Unetsu: The Egg Stands Out Of Curiosity. When I got home and searched, Netflix had eight of them, two available for streaming.

Conclusion: Netflix is kind of scary, and apparently a lot better at what they do than AT&T is at what they do.

#245 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 08:20 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 237: Ever seen "Le Sang d'un Poete"?

No, but it's in my queue. I love Orpheus.

#246 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 08:27 PM:

Russ@92:

I found it both expedient and grating that the Trek reboot prodded the main characters together with little more than a nod and a wink.

The thing that bothered me most was that they were prodded together and slotted into their roles right out of Starfleet Academy. They scored prime bridge crew positions on a top-of-the-line starship, presumably over the heads of quite a few more experienced Starfleet officers. In the original series, Kirk was a womanizer and a bit of a loose cannon, but he'd worked his way up and proved himself; he was in his mid-thirties, and was considered young. In the reboot, Kirk is a frat boy who got the Enterprise because his dad was tight with Captain Pike.

The reboot is Star Trek refracted through the twin lenses of our present culture's fear of age, and our present culture's strange and damaging conviction that charisma, connections, and gut feelings can be substituted for actual skill.

#247 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2010, 09:20 PM:

Jacque (234): The artist who made the elaborate ferris wheel structure was Bruce Honeck.

#248 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 03:53 AM:

Mike McHugh @236: THANK you! I remembered seeing that pointer before, but couldn't find the reference (and was too proud to ask). Unfortunately, it looks like it's only available for Windows. (Though this may finally motivate me to set up a Windows partition on my Mac, now that I'm finally backed up.)1

---
1 Mac-Windows. Another irritating divide important only to the dividers and annoying to the rest of us.2

2 But that's the beautiful thing about standards: there are so many of them.

#249 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 04:35 AM:

Serge @240 & Wesley @243: My personal favorite was "Sand." Highlight for the series, actually. Also, did a really nice job with Servalan. (Have I mentioned she's my favorite—in a very limited field—arch-villain?)

Serge @241: As far as I know, Perlman doesn't speak French, so basically he was saying his lines phonetically

I'm given to understand this is also true of Toshiro Mifune and English. (Evidently a point of pride, with him.) Which makes his performance in things like Red Sun all the more impressive.

Wesley @246: The thing that bothered me most was that they were prodded together and slotted into their roles right out of Starfleet Academy

YES. One of the big reasons I won't see it. (Resisting the imperative has proven to be remarkably arduous. My high school Star Trek clubmate is emphatic I should see it; she fails to see the peril she places herself in by pushing the issue.) Your objections are spot on.

Mary Aileen @247: Bruce Honeck

Thank you! Odd; he doesn't seem to have an online presence.

#250 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 10:11 AM:

Jacque (249): Odd. ::rummages around on Google:: That's because his first name is actually Butch, not Bruce. Curse my faulty memory! His site is here.

#251 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 11:04 AM:

Mifune spoke phonetcally in "Red Sun"? I am impressed.

#252 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 11:13 AM:

Wesley... Tanith Lee wrote only two episodes? I thought there had been more, but maybe it's because the oft-seen blood-drinking guards were introduced in one of her stories.

#253 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 11:14 AM:

Wesley @243 has it right on the two B7 episodes written by Tanith Lee.

Something Lee said in a magazine interview many years ago was that Sarcophagus was pretty much all her, as she did the necessary re-writes requested by (I presume) script editor Chris Boucher. By contrast, she wasn't available to do the re-writes on Sand, so that ended up not exactly how it would have been had she been available to do the final script tweaks.

(I do wish that she'd been asked to do a script for Torchwood.)

#254 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 11:21 AM:

Serge @253: The mutoids were introduced in the first season, which was entirely written by Terry Nation (with rather a lot of script editing by Boucher in places). Tanith Lee was (and is) a fan of the series, but didn't write for it until third season.

#255 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 11:22 AM:

Serge @252, I mean. I probably need some caffeine, my typing's gone to pot.

#256 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 11:55 AM:

#236 Mike McHugh

Your information appreciated!

Love, c.

#257 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 12:45 PM:

A friend of mine spun up a fascinating theory based on the new Star Trek movie, in which she posited a bloody, long-running war with the Klingon empire, such that Starfleet is utterly desperate for warm bodies, and stuffing anyone they can draft into starships as quickly as they can complete basic training, while trying to conceal this fact from the happy shiny protected Earth. She pulled together quite a few facts from the movie to convincingly support this argument, including the fact that they would, in fact, give a prime ship to kids like that, because so many other candidates were simply dead, and desperation leads to a conclusion of "Well, at least this set seems to be having some success so far..."

Alas that I cannot replicate her argument points, or find the writeup anymore. But it put an entertainingly dark spin on the whole movie.

#258 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 01:09 PM:

Julia Jones @ 254-255... I curse my memory, which compressed the years into a big jumble. And I do need coffee too.

#259 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 01:12 PM:

Fade Manley @ 257... That would explain why, when Starfleet sends ships to Vulcan, we realize that there is nothing left to defend Earth. The reality though may be more prosaic: when they started filming, the writer's strike was going on, and what they had to work with was not the final draft. (Either that or I misunderstood what was said to me by that person who worked on ST-TNG.)

#260 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 01:14 PM:

Speaking about getting younger, if the Doctor's next incarnation holds to the trend, he'll be ready to enter Hogwarts.

#261 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 01:19 PM:

Serge @258: it does not help in keeping the memory straight that Lee wrote one book which appears to deliberately use avatars of two of the characters (Kill the Dead), and another book which could be readily mistaken for an avatar novel if you don't notice the copyright date of 3 years before the series started (Companions on the Road). Oh, and an sf play for Radio 4 specifically for Paul Darrow as the male lead. She's very much a B7 fangirl. :-)

#262 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 01:44 PM:

On the plus side, the recent Star Trek was better-directed and better-acted than any other episode I know of (although I admit there are many I haven't seen).

Shame about the script, though.

Time to re-watch GalaxyQuest...

#263 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 01:47 PM:

Mary Aileen @250: Yay! Thanks! (Probably just as well I can't afford him, otherwise my house would be wall-to-wall Honeck. The walls, of course, would be floor-to-ceiling Whelan.)

So what's the genre name for steampunk+fantasy?

Curse my faulty memory! Yes, that's certainly—I'm sorry; what was the question?

Serge @251: Mifune spoke phonetcally in "Red Sun"? I am impressed.

Can't scare up any documentary evidence right off hand. But if I'm wrong, blame Jon Singer. I think he's the one who told me that.

Hm. Speaking of streaming, maybe that's what I'll watch for this afternoon's cleaning breaks....

Julia Jones @253: Interesting. "Sand" is, for my money, much the better of the two episodes. Not that "Sarcophagus" is bad, just unremarkable in the grand scheme.

Julia Jones @261: radio play What? What!? Does this exist online anywhere? </paul darrow fangirl>

#264 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 01:51 PM:

Retraction: Oops, sorry. Red Sun appears to have rolled off the streaming queue. My apologies. (See also: Drat!)

#265 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 02:08 PM:

Jacque@215

I mean, [BBC] ALREADY ha[s] a subscription model, sort of; why do they prevent me from subscribing because of where my IP address is?

Only rationale I can come up with is that the advertisers don't value American viewers as potential market. Or something equally narrow-minded.

No advertising on the BBC - or at least on home consumed BBC: its all funded by a compulsory levy. We really do do things differently here.

Or rather, there; since I'm currently watching aghast from abroad as a bunch of people I went to school with (or almost) set about systematically destroying the institutions that I most love about my own country.

(And I've seen this particular movie before. Twenty years is far too soon for a remake; though it will be interesting to see students take up the role of the Enemy Within)

#266 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 03:44 PM:

Steve C.: Speaking about getting younger, if the Doctor's next incarnation holds to the trend, he'll be ready to enter Hogwarts.

Which I would pay heavy money to see. I'm willing to bet that there's NOTHING in those corridors of Hogwarts half as interesting or dangerous as what's in the back storage areas of the TARDIS. And Voldemort trying his crap on a Time Lord? Yeah, sure.

#267 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 05:47 PM:

Jacque @263 -- Google on "The Silver Sky" "Tanith Lee" for more details -- first broadcast in 1980. I don't know of any legal source for it, although it's conceivable that the BBC has made the archive copy available in some manner since the last time I looked. (I sincerely hope so, because I've only ever heard it in the form of a multi-generation fan cassette with the sound so faded you could barely hear it, and I would like to buy a clean, legal copy.)

#268 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 06:02 PM:

Oh goodness... According to imdb.com, someone IS remaking "Forbidden Planet", for release in 2013. I hope that the total absence of details bodes well, and it'll never happen.

#269 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 06:05 PM:

Julia Jones @ 267... Hopefully the BBC was taking better care of its archives by then. To think that they had filmed "Caves of Steel", with Peter Cushing, and that they recycled the tapes for something else...

By the way, I'm kind of surprised that nobody has remade "Blake's 7".

#270 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 06:19 PM:

Bruce Cohen #237# 1. Not even saved by Matt Frewer's consumption of the scenery and most of the supporting cast.

Should this be crosslinked to the "serial comma" thread, or is Taken in fact a monster movie?

Ginger: Yay! The smile is a good hint....

#271 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 06:25 PM:

Serge, #269: There was a radio-play remake a few years back. I think some of the people who wrote Doctor Who novels back in the 1990s were involved.

#272 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 06:36 PM:

Jacque @ 248:

There's actually a good solution for that: get a virtualization product like VMWare and build a Windows virtual machine on your Mac. The Windows programs in the virtual machine will run at the same time as the Mac programs, and you can change focus between them at will. The VM programs are not too expensive (both VMWare and Parallels list for $80, and you can usually get them for $55-60 online); the real nasty part is getting a Windows license for the VM, because Micro$oft charges way too much for them and doesn't like discounters.

#273 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 06:48 PM:

VMWare Fusion works pretty well -- there's some work software that requires Windows, so I had to get it.

#274 ::: Spiegel ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 07:42 PM:

Going back to the subject of older women in fiction: Madame Souza from The Triplets of Belleville/Belleville Rendez-vous is right up there with Granny Weatherwax for me.

#275 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 08:41 PM:

praisegod barebones @265: No advertising on the BBC - or at least on home consumed BBC: its all funded by a compulsory levy. We really do do things differently here.

Ah, that explains it. I'm not a tax-payer. Well, okay, I guess I can accept that. Well then, Yo! BBC! Untapped revenue stream here!! (I wonder what the levy works out to per head?)

And I've seen this particular movie before. Twenty years is far too soon for a remake

You have my deepest condolences.

Julia Jones @267: "The Silver Sky Didn't find any copies on a quick search. I'll have to wait for someone with more patience and stronger Google-Fu to find it.

Serge @268: According to imdb.com, someone IS remaking "Forbidden Planet"

J. Michael Straczynski's doing the screenplay, evidently. Could be promising. Last I'd heard, it was evolving into a prequel.

@269: Blake's 7 remake. This is dated a couple of years ago, so one presumes it never went anywhere. But per somebody's point upthread about the ridiculousness of remaking something successful, I'm inclined to rejoice. If they got some really truly competent writers and somebody of the calibre of, say, Robert Carlyle to play Avon, I might be on board. But otherwise....

272 ::: Bruce Cohen @272: Actually, if I'm interpreting the Apple site correctly, Mac comes with a built-in Windows emulation capability. I haven't tried it yet because I only recently got equipped for regular backups. Plus, you know, Round Tuits.

#276 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 09:26 PM:

Jacque @ 275... Straczynski's doing the screenplay, evidently. Could be promising. Last I'd heard, it was evolving into a prequel

Huh oh...

We don't need the (literally) gory details of what happened. What Morbius told us was sufficient. We also didn't need to be told Wolverine's origins, unless we were interested in seeing Hugh Jackman shirtless. (Of course I'm not addressing that one to TexAnne. Heheheh...)

#277 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 09:35 PM:

Serge, uh...I never quite got around to seeing it. But I'll put it on my Netflix queueueue just so you'll be able to keep teasing me. I'd hate for you to feel deprived. :-D

#278 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2010, 10:25 PM:

TexAnne @ 277... I'd suggest your putting the "X-men" movies in your NetFlix queue rather than "Wolverine", if you must have a shirtless Jackman around. I can't remember if he took his shirt off in "Paperback Hero".

#279 ::: TW ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 03:06 AM:

TexAnne, If you need Jackman love try The Fountain; can't remember if there is full shirtless but we do get wet tight jeans and wet tight leather conquistador pants now and then (but they dial the angst drama up to 11).

#280 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 05:39 AM:

Shirtless Jackman? There's a glut on the market; add Australia and Oklahoma! to the list.

#281 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 11:53 AM:

TexAnne @230 It's a bit of a spoiler for a series already mentioned in this thread, but gur punenpgre'f sebz Fhcreangheny. Guvf cnegvphyne cybg cbvag bpphef va n yngre frnfba, ohg yrg'f whfg fnl gung gur punenpgre va dhrfgvba vf bar bs gur zbfg sha V'ir rapbhagrerq ba GI va n juvyr.

Jacque @234

When Supernatural first popped up on my radar, all the advertising put it solidly in the "NOT FOR ME" column, and I didn't give it a second glance. Everything I saw screamed "poorly-written eye-candy soap." I continued to steadily ignore it until last year, when a friend of mine was painfully obsessed with it. I agreed to watch the first few episodes at her place, partially just to humor her. We watched the entire first season in a weekend, and when I got home I marathonned season two. The first season surprised me by being legitimately scary at times1. It reminded me of the horror anthologies of my youth2, but with two consistent main characters instead of a rotating cast. The second season surprised me by having legitimate character development and plentiful moments of actual humor3.

I'll admit that "alternate version of our world, where fantasy or horror element exists" IS one of the genres that I often like, but I hated Charmed, Heroes, and the Ghost Whisperer, so I'm no pushover when it comes to that kind of stuff. (I like Buffy, Angel, Shawn of the Dead, and some of the early seasons of the X-files.)

I'm trying to come up with some good examples of characters deciding to stop doing the thing that makes them miserable and do something else entirely. Most of the ones I can think of either start books or are horrible, Snape-Kills-Trinity-with-Rosebud-variety spoilers, where even mentioning the name of the work in which they occur has a possibility of spoiling something4. The opening premise of the Dealing With Dragons series is a princess realizing that remaining bored at home, waiting to be strategically married off, is a waste of her time, and so she decides not to do that. I seem to remember the Vertigo Lucifer doing a very similar thing; he was tired of hell, so he figured he'd just stop being in hell. This caused a lot of trouble for everyone else, but he was Lucifer so he didn't really care. It's also a fairly common component in the backstories of supporting characters in RPGs... in Mass Effect there are two characters in my crew who were doing things that made them miserable, so when given the chance to do something more productive, rather than angst over it and say "no... my place is here" they just decided to join up. Of course, leaving your entire life behind to go on some mad quest is a pretty fundamentally required plot bunny in most party-based RPGs, so it's less of a dramatic thing in that case. My history with RPGs may be why I'm constantly aware of the possibility of doing that, even in other forms of media.

In most of the examples I can think of, the "avoiding your destiny by trying to do something different" thing doesn't end up working out as a long term thing, though that usually results in the whole "understand why I'm doing this, own my responsibility" thing. That's basically the entire plot of Discworld's Reaper Man.

Mostly it's something I wish would happen more. When someone who is miserable doesn't have any compelling reasons for continuing to do what they're doing, I always wonder why they keep it up.

Bruce Cohen @237

I understand that it was perfectly reasonable for Buffy's character to act the way she did. It was in-character, rational, and well-written. That doesn't mean I had to like it. I did really enjoy the "wheel of convenient justifications" aspect of that, though, which was part of why I didn't ever really lose patience with it.

Jacque @263

Steampunk with fantasy elements is sometimes called "Gaslamp Fantasy."

I would argue that most steampunk contains some element of fantasy, or, at the very least, Science! which is pretty much just fantasy with tubes on.


1YMMV, I'm a bit of a horror wuss.
2 Are You Afraid of the Dark and Tales from the Crypt, specifically. I'm not saying this show is like those others per se, but it gave me the same "huddled beneath the covers, having scary fun" feeling I remember from sneaking downstairs at 3am as a teenager to watch Tales.
3 I later learned that Ben Edlund, creator of The Tick, came on as a producer and sometimes writer that season. Which explained a LOT.
4Vg'f gur raqvat gb Tbbq Bzraf, sbe rknzcyr.

#282 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 02:17 PM:

Leah, 281: Ah, thank you!

#283 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 02:58 PM:

Serge @ 268:
According to imdb.com, someone IS remaking "Forbidden Planet", for release in 2013. I hope that the total absence of details bodes well, and it'll never happen.

Right under the title on the page for that production is a link saying, "See all 7,200 in-development titles on IMDbPro" -- which maybe gives you a good rough idea of the odds that something "in development" will ever actually yield a movie (given that something like 200-300 movies are released in the US each year).

#284 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 03:10 PM:

A planned 2012 release of When Worlds Collide is also in "development".

From the description: "A rogue planet is on a collision course for Earth, and mass hysteria of biblical proportions breaks out in the streets. But when a billionaire astronomer discovers a second rogue planet accompanying the first capable of sustaining life , he plans to build a rocket to transport a small group of people to the planet in order to populate it and ensure survival of the human race."

Billionaire astronomer indeed!

#285 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 03:10 PM:

Peter Erwin @ 283... There is also hope in that I have heard about "Forbidden Planet" remakes since 1985. At least, that's when I first noticed news about that. (By the way, there is nothing like watching the scene of the Krell shaft on a big screen.)

#286 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 03:17 PM:

Serge @278: if you must have a shirtless Jackman around. I can't remember if he took his shirt off in "Paperback Hero".

Um...Australia? (When Jackman was doing the press tour, he took great delight in describing the shoot of The Shirtless Scene. Evidently, he came out of his trailer all stripped down and oiled up...to find the whole male tech crew shirtless and oiled up. Including the boom-mike guy (mimes beefy arms upraised).

#287 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 03:34 PM:

And HERE on YouTube is the whole scene that introduced Jackman to the world, first sans shirt and then shirted.

#288 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 04:03 PM:

Mmmm, why thank you, Serge.

#289 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 04:19 PM:

@281: When someone who is miserable doesn't have any compelling reasons for continuing to do what they're doing, I always wonder why they keep it up.

... I do this too, in real life, but in real life these are rarely sympathetic protagonists.

#290 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 04:50 PM:

Leah Miller @281 having scary fun" feeling I remember from sneaking downstairs at 3am as a teenager to watch Tales.

I am now hopelessly reminded of Bill Cosby's "The Chicken Heart".

Peter Erwin @283: "See all 7,200 in-development titles on IMDbPro" -- which maybe gives you a good rough idea of the odds that something "in development" will ever actually yield a movie.

Cf. Harlan Ellison's once and future eternal I Robot script.

#291 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2010, 06:02 PM:

Jacque: Cf. Harlan Ellison's once and future eternal I Robot script.

Done as contract work for Warner Brothers. Tied to Warner Brothers, unlike the option to make the film... The book release was due to a contract provision that the WGA arranged to allow adaptations for other media: that's why there's a graphic novel version of "Demon with a Glass Hand" since Harlan controlled those rights.

#292 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 09:31 AM:

Jacque @275:
(I wonder what the [BBC] levy works out to per head?)

£145.50 per household this year (for a colour TV; I'm not sure how many black-and-whites there still are!) Pensioners get it free and the blind get a rebate, and of course there are rules about what counts as a household and so on. The TV Licensing site has all the details one could ever possibly dream of wanting.

The "Cat detector van" gag in Monty Python is based on TV detector vans that went round checking that houses without a TV licence weren't receiving broadcasts on the sly, by the way. (There are arguments about whether they actually worked, or were dummies; I have no idea.)

#293 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2010, 04:29 PM:

Which I would pay heavy money to see. I'm willing to bet that there's NOTHING in those corridors of Hogwarts half as interesting or dangerous as what's in the back storage areas of the TARDIS. And Voldemort trying his crap on a Time Lord? Yeah, sure.

Which reminds me - in an Open Thready kind of way, which this isn't, but c'est la topic drift I guess - I've spent an unhealthy amount of yesterday and the day before reading the "Mark Reads Harry Potter" blog. This is the same Mark who also Read Twilight (So You Don't Have To). Each blog post was the read-along/review for a single chapter. Well before the midpart of Breaking Dawn, he was starting to produce reviews that looked mainly like this:

"WHYYYYYY"
"FFFUUUUU"
"STOP. Using. LANGUAGE!"

The commenting community, concerned for his mental well-being, suggested he reward himself by reviewing Rowling's series next.

It's really, really fun watching someone A) read Harry Potter for the first time, 98% unspoiled for the various plot twists, and B) doing so right after reading something truly abysmal. He'd still devolve into incoherent keyboard-pounding from time to time, but it was more of a positive thing. It was a delighted reaction to discovering that [throwaway line/character XYZ] turned into [subplot ABC] some N books later. It was wonderful just watching him enjoy things that the previous work he'd read had lacked: character development, complex plotting, an author who seemed to agree with him that bigotry and classism were bad. It's the little things that mean so much.

Also, his reviews of the weepy parts in the books made me weep all over again. The way he frames his read-along of the end of book 6 wrecks me.

Anyway, archive here: Mark Reads Harry Potter (and you should too)

#294 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2010, 12:38 PM:

Hm. I may have to have another go at Harry Potter. I tried them back in the day and resolutely bounced off, but I've been quite warming to the movies, and really enjoyed Order of the Phoenix.

#295 ::: FaultyMemory sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2011, 07:35 PM:

#295, can you be *any* more obvious?

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